How to Deal With Negative Criticism of Your Work

The reason that I enjoy being part of the writing community is the lack of trolling. Sure there are trolls, but statistically, these are few and far between. I may have been lucky in my writing, but I find that I rarely get negative responses from people. Writers seem to have a respect for each other, that stops them acting cruelly.

When you put yourself on the internet though, you should expect some criticism. I am not advocating that this is right, but negative criticism is part of the job, you have to learn to work with. Since becoming a blogger I have received one outright troll response to an article. That doesn’t mean I haven’t received any negative comments, because I have.

I think it is important to clarify what I refer to as a troll. A troll is a person who attacks the writer without provocation. A person who will keep attacking them no matter what they write. I do not put those that post negative comments on posts into the category. Although, it is a very thin line. Those that start with a negative comment may soon develop into a troll, but not always.

Troll or Negative Nelly

When I first started writing on Medium I wrote a poem about poverty. How unfair it was that we sit with plates piled high with food, whilst others starve to death. The poem received some brilliant feedback. Then I spotted one comment that made me think, ‘what the hell.’ The comment said that the picture wasn’t very accurate, I had used one which showed well-fed children. I ignored it and put it down to a troll.

Overall my response to trolls is to ignore them. Starve them of the attention they crave.

A couple of weeks later, another comment was received from the same woman. In this, she stated how much she had enjoyed my article. In the end, it turned out that she wasn’t a troll, she had spoken her mind about the picture. If I had behaved negatively to her, she would have never read any of my articles. I would have lost a follower. To lose one follower is not a big concern, but keep doing this and you have a problem.

So what is the best way to deal with this?

The majority of times I would say ignore them. Never respond to them, as this could start an argument. It is attention these people crave and you don’t want to give them that if you don’t need to. Which is why to writers, with many followers, get so many negative comments. Put a negative comment on a writer with 50 followers and 50 people could see your writing. Put a negative comment on a person with 20 000 followers and they have reached the big time.

Being a writer and realist though it is not always easy to ignore these comments. We work hard on our writing and when people criticise it, then, of course, you take it personally. Some will wrap it up in a parcel with a bow and tell you they are trying to help. Others will put your writing down, it hurts no matter how it is presented. This is where my investigation skills come in.

I will always look into the person’s profile. Not to criticise their work, but to look at their comments. It will become evident if this person spends their life leaving negative comments on every post they read. When you find out you are not unique in their anger, it helps.

Last week I received a negative comment on a comment I made. It was months old and I remember thinking what the actual f***.

Sam H Arnold

Every part of me wanted to retaliate, nowhere in my response had I said women do not suffer domestic violence. Never did I belittle what women go through daily, it wasn’t relevant to the article to mention this. My fingers were poised over the keyboard to do battle. Then I searched through the other comments she had made. What I found was that she had gone to war with the writer of the article. Mud was slung and both sides took prisoners. I was being caught in the crossfire. I ignored her, it wasn’t worth the time to respond, her beef wasn’t with me but with someone else.

Ignoring the negative will improve your writing

Whether it is time that has made me thicker-skinned or researching profiles, I have stopped caring. Sure sometimes a friend will criticise my work and it will smart. The majority of the time let them criticise. I believe in what I write and if others don’t then I suggest they move on.

Over the last month, this has started a new freedom in my writing. I have started writing about more controversial topics such as Coronavirus. I am comfortable to put my views and opinions forward. There has been criticism, largely in a positive manner and I can deal with this. You don’t write about controversial subjects and not expect people to respond. Largely it depends on the tone they take with the comment as to whether I respond or not. Be aggressive and you can talk to yourself, want to start a friendly debate and I will be there.

As a writer, you should have the freedom of speech to write what you feel you want to. If you want to write about sex then go for it. It isn’t my topic, but then how boring would the world be if we were all the same. If you want to write conspiracy theories, again go for it. If you are a negative nelly and reading this, then scroll past. There are several more articles about flower arranging on the internet for you.


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