Writers are continually told that they must develop a thick skin or they’ll never make it. This is true, but it’s far easier said than done. When I first starting writing, I never used to send out my screenplays or novels for any kind of review because it was too scary.
The biggest, in fact. If I had only one single piece of advice I could give any writer, it would be to always send your writing out for beta reads/ critiques. Seriously. You’ll shave ten years off of how long it will take you become a professional writer. You learn more in with one critique of your work than you will by reading ten writing books. (Read the books, too, though.)
Finally, I started sending out my writing for review and it was very difficult. It’s hard to have your work torn to pieces, but it really is for your own damn good. This is particularly true of self-publishers. If you’re going to publish your work for the world to see, you’re better off having people tear your work apart first, thus giving you a chance to fix it before it goes public!
In the past, I would really stress out over receiving a review. I’d wait, nervously, for days and sometimes weeks for the review to come in. I would freak out just thinking about it. I stopped checking my email after 7pm each night when I knew a review would be forthcoming soon, because if it was bad, I would be too stressed to sleep. I knew I needed time to deal with the review. Time to be upset, deal with the emotions, and finally feel better. The second the review popped up in my inbox, I had to read it. I had to get it over with. I have terrible, awful, no-good luck with timing on this issue. Inevitably, the worse the review, the more people would be around when I got it. I got one such rejection on Christmas Eve and had my entire family around. That was fun, having to pretend my heart hadn’t just been ripped out. Often, my kids are around me, yammering, vying for my attention when I’m just trying to quickly do the “how bad is it” review. Still, I couldn’t “not” look. I just had to know.
Right now I have several chapters of my novel, SINGLES VS. BRIDEZILLAS, out for review with two beta readers. One came back last week with her critique. Just yesterday, I got around to reading it.
That surprised me. I knew the review was sitting in my inbox but it took me almost a week to even look at it. It’s not that I don’t care about the review. I do, and it’s still scary to a degree. I guess it’s just that I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve gotten good reviews, awful reviews, mean reviews, glowing reviews. If it’s a great review – wonderful! Bring on the Schnapps. If it’s bad – terrible even – I know I can fix the story. I’ve done it many times before.
The hardest part of getting a review is reading it for the first time. It’s hard to see your work torn apart, your flaws exposed. It gets better when you start actually doing the rewrites. You’ve dealt with whatever emotions you had and you’ve moved on. The best part is stepping back and seeing how much better the writing has become since you’ve fixed all the bad stuff. That “Wow, that IS better!” moment. You can be so much more confident releasing your work to the world since several people have already told you what sucks and how to fix it.
It just seems weird to me that it doesn’t upset me as much. It’s a good thing, just surprising.
Don’t be concerned if you still get upset about bad reviews. I still do, too, it just doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.
Remember, your writing is important to you. If you get upset about bad reviews, it means you care.
– Linda Fausnet