Throwback Thursday: When to Ignore Negative Feedback


Throwback Thursday is a series where we take a look back at some of AWP’s most popular posts. Enjoy!

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?




Original post here.

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.








14 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: When to Ignore Negative Feedback”

  1. I find that any oral comments are worth the paper they’re written on. Yet most people believe they excel at oral criticism.
    I don’t care if something is negative, so long as it is understandable, meaning use no adjectives in the criticism. Use of adjectives is a sign of a writer’s inability of being able to use this language to express ideas.
    As happens with most writing I hope the reader/critic tells what he thinks. Whether the ideas are praiseworthy or unlikeable, if the writer/critic says what is meant, and the author understands it, not much more need be said.
    Otherwise, the author has a legitimate piece of criticism or he has a writing that makes no sense.


  2. “When it doesn’t educate you”- very well said. I once was typing up a piece to submit to Boston Globe when I read the comments on a short story another writer submitted. To say the least, it was horrifying criticism- both cruel and un-useful. Comments like, “Go kill yourself” and “what a waste of time,” or the occasional “you’re an idiot” shocked me (though I guess it shouldn’t have.)

    I was hoping, as not only a writer but also as a reader, to witness more effective or constructive criticism from other readers. It would’ve been nice to actually discuss what we found bad (or good) about the piece. But instead there was quite a large amount of group polarization. I was disappointed. And I’m sure the writer was looking for feedback too, after gaining the courage to submit such a personal story to a magazine.

    Couldn’t agree more and thanks for sharing! 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  3. After 30+ years of obscurity and literary rejection, you learn a few things.
    However I would recommend to any writer also trying their hand at reviews, such as Amazon; doing the job properly that is, as you would wish your work to be reviewed.
    1. This sharpens your analytical skills.
    2. Gives you an insight into what might be going on in the mind of a reviewer or critic and whether they are good, just a febrile little troll or someone with an axe to grind.
    3. Toughens you up, when you read what sort of dross passes for feedback.
    Some of my responses to criticism which contributes nothing to education are:
    A. Huh! You missed the point entirely. Not worth my time.
    B. Yeh. LIke I cared? Do I see you writing anything?
    C. This is mine and I put it out there.
    D. Did you actually read the book/story???????.
    Finally I would say:
    Keep on keeping on folks.


  4. I ignore any that is just a star rating, especially if it’s low. I want to know what they don’t like. The worst kind are “1 star: not my sort of thing”. I always felt a rating should be based on the quality and merits, not whether or not you would normally read that sort of thing.


  5. A good read.

    Personal attacks and revenge critiques disguised as feedback or criticism should be ignored (and if you are in a writing group they should be reported to persons in authority).

    They’re unproductive and engaging them only makes things worse. Luckily, they tend to also be rare.


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