Being Able to Take Criticism is a Life Skill

Recently, Twitter has been abuzz with a particular incident in the writing/publishing/book community.

One author, shortly after publishing their debut novel, wasn’t best pleased to receive anything less than 5 star review s (via goodreads). They thought it best to retaliate, to lash out as those reviewers.

To say they overreacted is an understatement. These reviews were glowing in praise for the work but because they weren’t a full 5 stars, the author saw this as an insult.

Even though these reviews weren’t critical in the slightest, it got me thinking about how some people just cannot take the idea that their work is imperfect. Surely, this is something that we all end up dealing with, no matter our occupation or circumstances.

I work in VFX (visual effects), so you have to be able to take criticism. You have to be able to listen to the directors or supervisor’s notes and constantly work to make the shot(s) better. There’s no room for tantrums and hurt feelings.

A friend of mine would often show me a piece of art she had done, expecting nothing but praise. I’d aim to be kind and encouraging, but I’d also aim to be honest and help her improve. She would often get upset when I offered advice, and refuse to take it. And naturally, when she’d show me soemthing else, I’d see the same issues, again and again.

Of course, someone pointing out flaws in your work doesn’t feel great, but as an artist, you should always be striving to improve and without criticism, how can you recognise your weak points? We are often blinded by our pride, our own passions, so we need others to help us progress.

Of course, that being said, some people can be nasty and unhelpful in their criticisms. Especially in this age of the Internet, there are so many people just looking for attention, looking to get a rise out of others. We call them trolls, little monsters hiding under our bridges of progress. Sometimes, the best way across is by ignoring them.

It’s a skill to recognise – and give – constructive criticism. Don’t just tell someone their work is bad or you didn’t like it, point out what stuck out to you, that way the artist can work on that (if they so choose). And do it with grace.

Criticism hurts, and unfortunately – no matter what your medium is – if you put your work online, or anywhere, you will face it again and again. Try your best to see it as an opportunity to grow and never stop learning.

Do you have any tips that help you to deal with criticism? How do you take it on board without getting upset or feeling down?

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