Approaching Negative Comments

This isn’t going to be a rant about negative comments. That requires a type of energy I don’t have anymore because I have learned that a variety of “energies” are required in order to build oneself as a person, regardless of the given activity.

There is nothing wrong with receiving feedback or commentary that doesn’t please you. When we expose ourselves to the masses, there are those who will love us, hate us, and there will be those who don’t realize we even exist.

I want my best advice to be: “Don’t care.” 

But no. I disagree with that sentiment because resorting to dismissal reaps a laziness that thwarts progression. As a writer, there should be a sincere desire to grow. When we can’t take criticism or handle viewing the negativity, we’ve created a supposedly impenetrable bubble for ourselves as opposed to being a permeable membrane. A membrane absorbs and filters what it needs to thrive and be healthy. Bubbles burst.

What has worked for me is to see what they are saying and only respond if the comment has compelled me to reply. Mind you, that doesn’t only apply to negativity. It’s all about knowing where to invest your time when you have it.

However, when it comes to the opposite of praise and I say “respond”, I do not mean retaliate. You’re supposed to be a writer, you wrote the story which requires a type of skill and– most of all– time and care toward each chapter. No? So why wouldn’t you do the same with a response to anyone you choose to respond to?

When I first joined Wattpad, I shared the “Miss Sensitive” sash with thousands of the other users.

Now, I don’t bother when people want to say things I disagree with when it comes to my characters personalities and actions. However, if you’ve ever seen me respond, it was always deeper than just defending my precious little characters that just couldn’t possibly be flawed (sarcasm). There are times when people comment about more than the characters.

They tend vilify men or women as a whole. They tend to have no mercy for a character not having the same strength they started out with at the beginning of the book. They tend to tell me that I am annoying them with the story I wrote, and sometimes that will be the only presence I have ever found of them in my notifications or chapters.

So I respond. And I do my best to reply with couth:

  • Men and women are allowed to be more than what you’ve been exposed to.
    • You don’t know everything, so your views about men and women are limited.
      • Eg: A woman’s purity is not the most important aspect of her life, and judging her for not having it in the manner you see fit doesn’t make her less of a human being.
  • A character is allowed to change
    • I’ve done my best to write characters with their own individually.
      • Eg: A character is allowed to be strong and have a sharp tongue as things begin, but allow them to be a human. Humans go through times where we lose ourselves and fall completely off balance.
  • Most of us write with a purpose to tell a worthwhile story.
    • If the title of the story doesn’t give that away, there is a great chance that the description/blurb will.
      • Eg:  I will finish my story regardless of me writing something that doesn’t please everyone. Sometimes, I notice those who choose to only make themselves known to tell me I’ve annoyed them in a story they can easily remove from their library. Never viewed a vote or comment before that, both things that I really don’t need or desire from everyone who reads the story; however, many people need to realize how we view those who only show up at times like this…
        • Remember: It’s easier for people to share what they don’t like, and that’s unfortunate.

If you know what your story and purpose online is about, there should be nothing to fear when it come to the feedback that isn’t putting you on this pedestal. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the authors– whether they had a few or even millions of views– who catch attitude with a solid critique or only pick the negative responses to snap back at.

  • Choosing to solely respond to negativity is telling of the author’s place in the world of writing
  • Ignoring all negativity or complaining about it without analysis is telling of the author’s place in the world of writing
  • Using the amount of “reads” you have to retaliate back is not an argument and reinforces how thin the author’s skin may be
  • Telling a reader that their opinion doesn’t matter is uncalled for because their extra “read(s)” sure did, didn’t it?
  • Comments about grammatical errors and editing overall shouldn’t be taken so harshly. Most of us are not professionals, and I will sure as hell call myself an “amateur writer” because I am. So, I can understand why those who don’t ask for feedback my grow irritated. Yet, we’re in a public space where you’ve made the point to share to the world. Most people that show you the flaws are doing it to help you.
    • You not only got a free beta reader, but also a free editor. Thank them sometimes.

There is always more for me to say about this topic, but I’m going to save it for another post. Enjoy writing the way you had always intended, but be vigilant of the commenters that are actually trying to help you. And, yes, there will be those who could have been kinder with their online intonation; but, despite the level of negativity within their response, sometimes you can find a little gospel in their responses that can help you optimize your skills.

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