This week, as I’ve been preparing to officially launch my website and my other projects that I’m going to be putting out this year (stay tuned—announcement still to come!), I’ve gotten a lot of great encouragement and feedback, but also some negativity from a source I once trusted.
Putting yourself out there is hard. From submitting your first manuscript to agents to releasing a book to marketing and every tiny step along the way, it’s hard. It’s hard to overcome the self-doubt and the insecurities in order to take the next step, and it’s even harder to take criticism, apply it, and try again.
Sometimes, that negative voice is helpful. The caring friend or critique partner who says, “Here’s what you need to work on and here are your weak points,” or the family member who says, “Your focus is out of balance,” and so on. Those sorts of things, while hard to hear, come from a place of love and a genuine desire to build you up and help you along.
But sometimes, that voice is just there to drag you down.
I’m a firm believer that you can learn from anyone, no matter how much smarter or more knowledgeable you may be than they are. If you are willing to listen and apply it, everyone has something they can teach you.
In every situation, whenever everyone says something, be it positive or negative, it’s a good idea (and one I try to apply, even if I don’t always succeed) to see if there is something to be learned.
That critic hated your work? Maybe they could’ve phrased it better, but what didn’t they like about it? Is there anything you can improve based on their opinion?
Your mom (or other family member) thinks you’re the best thing since Betty White, but she would’ve done this teensy thing differently? What is that teensy thing? Is there something to her opinion?
Even if the critic says something that is rude, offensive, and downright mean, there may still be some truth to it. And if so, can you take that truth and apply it while throwing out the rest?
I admit, that’s hard for me, especially given the criticisms I’ve gotten this week. But I’m learning to take the negative and realize it’s okay to ignore it. Even if it comes from someone whose opinion I once valued, if it doesn’t apply (and if you’re willing to learn, then you can probably decipher whether or not it applies), to brush it off and move on.
I work hard, and I’m willing to learn. No one likes hearing their work isn’t up to snuff in whatever way, and it can be hurtful, but I’m taking the valuable and leaving the trash behind.