Today was one of those days. I woke up feeling more inspired than ever. My ideas flowed out of me, and my creativity knew no limits. Little did I know I was one Google search away from allowing my inner critic to seep right back in.
Is it just me or all content producers run into their old creations on Reddit? Just me? Okay!
So that’s what happened. Although I do appreciate criticism time and again, I wasn’t looking for any today. But that one comment on Reddit, which said “ that review was horribly written,” made me sulk down into my chair and wonder what I’m doing with my life.
Do I really have what it takes to be a writer?
Am I pretending to be something I’m not?
Will I ever be good enough?
While these jarring questions echoed in the back of my head, I moved from my study chair to my bed. I covered my face with my satin sheets and drifted into a peaceful slumber. Problem solved, yeah? No!
My struggle with criticism will never end. Every once in a while, I know that I’ll feel I’m not good enough. But because I plan to tread this route for a long time, I must learn to deal with this feeling of overbearing pessimism.
More so, learn to embrace my inner critic, not silence it.
So for days when your fingers feel heavy, and your negative thoughts are out of control, this guide might come in handy:
Get to the root of the problem.
As mentioned above, my issue wasn’t the bad Reddit review. It was my insecurities as a writer that made me question my abilities.
So the problem isn’t with the internet warriors and trolls who try to bring you down. It’s your attitude towards what they say.
As a writer or a creator, one must never forget that no matter what you do, you will be criticized in one way or another. Just head over to Goodreads and check out all the best-selling novels that have come out in the past two decades. From Rowling to Bukowski, every writer has at least hundreds of those “one-star” reviews. It doesn’t mean they’re bad writers.
Similarly, one negative review (or even hundreds) don’t define you.
Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.
The lines between negative and positive criticism are blurred. But more often than not, criticism falls on one end of the spectrum.
For instance, if someone’s thoughtlessly calling you a “silly writing piece of sh*t.” Their intentions are malicious, and their rage against you is purposefully hurtful. Moreover, their criticism is not backed up with any valid facts or observations. Thus, the person behind it is only trying to belittle you.
Put simply, if you feel attacked and ridiculed, it’s the destructive kind.
Now positive criticism isn’t all sunshine and rainbows either. But a good way of identifying it is by determining whether it comes from a place of genuine help or arrogance.
If you’re struggling to differentiate between constructive and destructive criticism, learn what you can from the experience and move on. Understand how it can help you improve a particular aspect of your creation instead of drowning in self-defeating thoughts.
Not to mention, regardless of how negative it is, respond (if necessary) politely.
You’re not an imposter.
We all have that one friend who gives terrific advice. “That friend” delves deep into Greek philosophies and unknown Chinese proverbs to convince you that the world is a beautiful place. The same friend is in a toxic relationship with almost everything. I Am That Friend. That’s why I’m writing this article.
So when I’m out there, forcing my mildly condescending advice onto others, I’m a third party observer. Due to this, the kind of empathy I feel for the person’s problems is a lot compared to what I feel for my sorry self.
But here’s the cool thing. You can see yourself from a third-person perspective as well. Instead of asking, “Why do I feel like a worthless writer?” ask, “Why Does *Your Name* feel like a worthless writer?” (Not literally “your name.”)
By doing this, you detach yourself from your inner critic and empathize with yourself. Once you do that, you’re able to give yourself some helpful advice and also spare others from your hypocrisy. It’s a win-win.
Stop being such a perfectionist.
I often get these brilliant ideas that could potentially break the internet, turn the world upside down, and make me an overnight cult leader (not that I want to be one).
But when I sit down to write about these ideas, my mind goes blank. I endlessly stare at the glaring white piece of canvas that rests in front of me. But the words, they never seem as perfect as they did in my head. Sigh.
Still, I write. So should you. Avoiding the urge to seek perfection may not wholly silence your inner critic, but it can amp it down a little. You might doubt your writing skills, but at least you’ll still be a writer…because, well, you’re writing.
The more you write, the more you improve — the closer you get to perfection.