When to Ignore Negative Feedback

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by Tonya R. Moore

I think we call all agree that getting feedback on our writing is very important. Most of the time—whether it’s positive or negative, feedback serves to encourage or help us grow.

We can learn a lot from negative feedback but this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes it makes more sense to simply ignore negative feedback.

Here are three examples of instances in which we really need to just ignore negative feedback:

 

When It’s Not Constructive

Unfortunately, some people only know how to dole out destructive criticism.

Writers need to be able to accept feedback meant to help us improve and reject toxic remarks that are of no real value.

 

When It Doesn’t Educate You

Not all well-meaning criticism will benefit you. Perspectives vary and people will develop their own ideas of what the end result of your work should be.

I once had a short story dismissed by a reviewer who thought that six different kinds of aliens were too many, which made it difficult to keep up with the story. But it was a science fiction story that took place on a ship inhabited by hundreds of species, so were six really that unreasonable?

At the end of the day, if the negative feedback you’re receiving doesn’t actually help you to achieve the result you envisioned, sometimes it’s best to simply thank the person kindly and move on.

 

When It’s Not Relevant

Have you ever gotten negative feedback on a piece of work that wasn’t even relevant to the subject?

I once had a reviewer state that the “chapters” in a collection of short fiction that I published were disjointed and didn’t seem to be related to each other. Of course I was mystified because it was a collection of unrelated stories, not a novella or novelette.

Strange as it may sound, that sort of thing happens. Who knows why?

At those times, I ask myself one question: can I use this to become better at what I do?

If not, I simply move along.

What About You?

When do you choose to ignore negative feedback?

 

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Tonya R. Moore. Tonya is a Jamaican born, science fiction, horror, and urban fantasy writer from Bradenton, Florida. 


226373498_dacf4f263f_bNeed help with your book or novel? Check out the Writer’s Toolbox, a list of free, discounted, and overall helpful links to tools and benefits to help you with what you do best: writing.


 

 

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33 thoughts on “When to Ignore Negative Feedback”

  1. So very true. I’ve read reviews of others’ books that were clearly meant for another author, or the reviewer never read the book.

    Let’s not forget the negative reviews that attack the author and don’t address the book at all. Yes, there are trolls out there.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. When I’m ever asked in an interview “What advice would you give to an aspiring author?”

    I would always answer:

    “Never take any criticism as criticism. Take it as a form of guidance and support from one author to another.”

    But my answer is coming from my POV in being an author myself. It is usually members of the general public who seem to have nothing better to do than to bash the efforts of an author. All one needs to do is to check the other reviews this individual has done to see if the particular in question should be totally ignored and toss into the trash.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I really like this list. Considering the source of the criticism is very important. I like the science fiction example. I write romance, and I remember someone who wrote a different genre tell me my stories weren’t “action-oriented” enough (meaning there wasn’t enough physical fights or adventurous). Romance is an adventure of the heart (where emotion is key), not so much a physical adventure. So yes, definitely consider the source.

    I laughed at the thing about the chapters in the short fiction collection. Sometimes you wonder if some people are paying attention to what they’re reading. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is good advice. As a reviewer I never go all out and attack a piece of work or the author. I have spoken to an author in the past who didn’t take constructive criticism well. It really has to depend on if that criticism can help improve the writing. As you have said, if it helps you then take it. A lot of people out there will be nasty for who knows why, it’s also important to be able to not only ignore that useless criticism but also find a way to laugh it off.
    Thank you for these tips. As q new writer I’ll keep these in mind 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What’s more annoying than negative feedback? Alleged experts telling authors how they should write. In every writing course I took, the advice was the same: “Learn the rules and then forget them.”

    We can always improve our writing skills, but the one thing we shouldn’t let anyone interfere with is our style. Trends come and go; but style sets one author apart from another and distinguishes his or her work. When weighing the merit of criticism, it’s wise to keep that truth in mind.

    Thanks for the insightful post, Tanya. Pinned & shared.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I ignore feedback if it’s not specific (e.g. “I hate your hero” as opposed to “I hate your hero because he is too sarcastic.”) or if it’s clear that the reviewer has no idea what they are talking about (usually with regards to grammar). I used to ignore reviewers who point out historical errors (I write historical romance) but now I think that’s a valid comment. Even if my writing is historically accurate, the reader hasn’t necessarily done the research to /know/ it’s accurate. You have to walk a fine line with history.
    Though with fantasy, I think you should be okay with six different types of aliens so long as they are convincing and add to the story!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Everything is spot on! Criticism and feedback are useful when they can help an author make a better next draft. Even when I hate everything about a work, I try to articulate exactly why. Maybe the writer didn’t expand something enough or maybe the work just didn’t need fit my taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love constructive feedback. Negative feedback only seems hard to work with if the advice is coming from an apparent bad reader.

    Ignoring irrelevant feedback is something all must contend with, even if it’s from a good reader who has different expectations. My recently published novella had only one overly negative review from an advanced reader. It seemed he would have liked the narrator to spend more time thinking about words (he’s a linguist).

    Most of my advance readers found that the way he spoke was word-focused enough. To me, the desire to become gimmicky with our characters is something to avoid. If I had my character constantly deconstructing words, parsing their meanings, and pulling their etymological roots from the page for examination, it would have been a very different story, much more like an episode from any number of popular TV shows one can watch on the “characters welcome” USA Network.

    I’m not saying these are bad TV shows. But the main characters have a gimmick, a tick, an over-emphasized character trait. What I wanted (and gave) was smarts and expertise without the the gimmick—it just didn’t fit the tone, conception, or trajectory of the novella.

    So I have to ignore it, and sigh, a little sad for the reviewer who missed out on some very important aspects of my book because he was too busy looking for something in it that simply wasn’t there. And I move on, happy enough to see that other reviewers got what I was giving them.

    Thank you Tonya for your wonderful thoughts on negative feedback. It’s certainly an issue that needs addressing for any person who chooses to send their words out into the world.

    Like

  9. Oh yes “I rated this 2 stars because I don’t like (insert genre type).” Completely useless as feedback goes because you’re judging the book by what you feel about the genre rather than on the book’s own merits

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s one that I’ve gotten. The critique started with, “I hate novels with flashbacks. Just tell a story straight through.” I had said in my introductory paragraph (on the critique site) that if one wasn’t the sort to follow shifts in time, my work might not be a good choice for critique. But off he goes anyway and is quickly annoyed and complaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A short story where the protagonist goes out into nature and has an epiphany – the comment was that I needed a blank line to separate two parts. His camping out with a feral cat trapped in the tent, and his getting on the bus to return. I thought such a layout would insult my reader, surely they can see its two parts…
    Piece of advice from competitive sports (triathlon) training – listen to everyone but only take the advice you feel is relevant. Its your story, write it as you should…

    Like

  11. I will try to sort through even destructive criticism, but in one case I got through about two pages and gave up. It began innocently, “You write beautifully and blah blah blah.” Then the gentleman set about rewriting every paragraph. Not just critiquing but actually rewriting. I can deal with someone saying, “If I were writing this I’d use a sharper tone/shorter words/skip the descriptive/whatever.” I can even deal with “Yuck! This story just didn’t work for me.” But, to take apart and reassemble almost every sentence in the story with new words at that, while changing the meaning of the story while he was at it–well, I just gave up and scanned the rest. It was quite long. He put a great deal of effort into pulverizing my work.

    Emotionally I was shredded for several days. Then I was angry and I wondered if I should have in fact reported him for such a destructive critique (someone else felt I should). Instead I ended up walking away from the site. That’s kind of sad in the long run.

    OTOH, saves me $100/year.

    Like

  12. Lovely piece, well said. I would ony take notice if the negative criticism came from a very good friend, or a professional whose opinion I respected. I trust my own opinion first and foremost because I know I put a lot of thought into what I’m writing, and a great deal of awareness. (I’m not interested in people who focus on typing errors – this is coming at it from a very different angle – namely proof reading – not editing or constructive criticism)

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  13. I don’t think any criticism is necessary when before the writer can actually take the time to fix the problems. For instance if you have a friend you who is in the middle of writing the rough draft, I would critize his grammar or flat characters. Wait until he gets the draft done, and then let him know. My personal opinion. I know I am very sensitive about what I write it feels like a part of me.

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    1. Yes, I definitely only give critique when requested and only solicit it when I’m ready. Anything prior to that means someone has been reading my work without my permission or knowledge. If it isn’t online or in the “reading room” (where I put pieces I want my husband to look over) then it isn’t ready for any feedback.

      Like

  14. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    I love this article. It helps me to filter that helpful comments from the negative and as a result improve my stories. I will also keep this in mind as I continue to critique other writers’ works. Well done, Tonya!

    Like

  15. I’m looking forward to getting to the point of deciding to set away negative criticism. My struggle right now is to get people TO comment. My blog http://thewriteaddiction.com is 3 years old now and my stats confirm for me that people are reading but it’s like pulling teeth to get them to leave comments for me and my team of writers. Anyone have advice and how to turn fan likes into meaning comments that can help my team improve our writing?

    Like

  16. There’s a difference between nonconstructive criticism and insult.

    Criticism of any form is a well reasoned, analytical scrutiny of something’s faults and merits. What distinguishes them is that Criticism wich is constructive offers clear suggestions on how to improve the faults, and nonconstructive does not.

    Insult, on the other hand, is a statement of opinion which is meant to intentionally degrade or belittle. It is not said from a place of analytical scrutiny, nor does it hold any value. It’s simply meant to be rude and hurtful for whatever reaso. (Jealousy, anger, etc), and is often unecessary.

    Even at its most poorly worded / delivered… Genuine nonconstructive criticism never delves into the territory of being an unsult to the work or person it’s about. And we’d do well to stop telling people that criticism and insult are the same thing as one another unless it strokes our egos and tells us we’re pretty.

    Like

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