Constructive criticism. Developmental feedback. Progressive advice. Whatever you call it, it’s necessary and sometimes shitty. It’s also a brick-by-brick construction of your writing foundation.
I’ve read a lot of blogs on writing tips. Inevitably the article will tell me that I need to have thick skin or learn to grow some. You know what I say to that?
No. No way. Not happening. I am a hyper-sensitive, thin-skinned, impassioned writer that needs a lot of emotional soothing when feedback is less than stellar. I like who I am, and I am not going to harden myself against critics or the world.
I am thin-skinned. I don’t know how to be thick-skinned because that’s not in my nature but I do have tools that soothe my bruised ego and help me move forward without fear.
Are you thin-skinned too? I hope these tips help.
Find your cheerleader.
Make sure you have a support system. Introverts tend to have a small social circle. Ensure that you have someone that can be a sounding board for your frustrations, fears, and hurt feelings.
My husband is my biggest cheerleader. I tell him when I get feedback that hurts my feelings. He has an uncanny ability to twist the criticism into positivity.
Is your art, your work, bigger than temporary hurt feelings? It is.
Change your perspective.
I like to visualize every piece of poor feedback as a big rock. I get the criticism, I step on that rock and it elevates me. You won’t be a great writer until you’re standing on a mountain of these big rocks.
Every criticism is a stepping stone towards being a better writer. These are opportunities, not setbacks. Use feedback as your fuel to get better, do better, be better.
Let it out. Give yourself permission to sulk a little and cry it out. If you’re angry, scream and punch the couch (unless it’s a futon because that doesn’t seem safe). Allow yourself to feel whatever it is your feeling and remind yourself that the sting will pass. Poor feedback doesn’t turn you into a bad writer. It turns you into a stronger writer with more knowledge and experience than you had before.
“Ow, that hurt. That hurt a lot. But I’m still a writer.” Critics don’t even get to take that away from you.
There will always be a road to redemption for a writer because our only job is to write better.
Find better clients.
Sometimes constructive criticism is anything but helpful. Sometimes it’s just mean. If your client tells you that your stuff sucks but offers zero notes on how to make it better for them, THEY SUCK.
If that is a reoccurring issue with a client, maybe you aren’t suited to work together. There is no shame in realizing that a working relationship is no longer beneficial and then taking steps to rectify the situation. And by rectify, I mean walk away. I’d like to suggest playing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” while you write the peace-out email.
It’s okay to be a thin-skinned writer. There are so many people out there shouting that it’s not, but it really is! Our sympathetic nature is our strength.
Thick skin is not necessary to be a writer. There are a lot of articles and blogs that perpetuate and normalize this idea that if you have thin skin, you’re not going to be as successful in your writing career. Fuuuuck that.
You can be sensitive, but you can also be brave. Being tender-hearted doesn’t mean your voice is weak.