Dealing with Criticism and Negative Comments…and a Bleg

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, two things happened. First, I had meetings all day. Then, I started thinking about those meetings. This post is about the second bit.

So when I’m busy like that and running around, I try my best to stay in the moment. But this isn’t always easy for me, as I tend to stay in my head a lot, worrying and analyzing. This is bad. It means I’m thinking instead of listening. I’m focused on myself instead of others.

At the end of the day, when it’s calm and quiet, that sort of self-analysis gets so much worse. My mind starts running at a million miles an hour. I lie on my back and replay all that happened during the day. And what do I focus on? The negative comments. The criticisms. The awkward moments. Look, yesterday wasn’t a 100% terrible day. It had plenty of good moments: interesting conversations, laughs, and I learned things. All good things.

But I have trouble shaking the negative moments. I can have 10 positive things happen, but when that one negative thing happens, it’s as if the 10 good things never happened. It can be a meeting that didn’t go as well as expected, or criticism of my work, or a rejection letter. It bums me out. It drives me nuts. And it’s all I can think about. It’s depressing.

So here’s the bleg part. How do you get over the negative comments? How do you respond to them, learn from them, and then move on? I’m not talking about ignoring it. I’m talking about getting better because of them without letting it dominate or depress you. I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you use. Please post them below.

And for my readers also on the East Cost of the US, good luck this weekend. Who knows what Sandy will bring. And extra good luck to those running Marine Corps Marathon in DC. It’s a great race, and you’ll have fun. Even if Sandy rains on your parade.

3 thoughts on “Dealing with Criticism and Negative Comments…and a Bleg

  1. Being a writer can be so, so frustrating. It’s a lot of “hurry up and wait.” I’ve gotten tons of rejections, but I found that I often felt better getting them, in that I at least knew that the system was working. And I had to trust the process. In publishing, any kind of rejection that’s personal (as opposed to the form one) is a great opportunity to grow and learn. But you should still let yourself feel pissed off, too. I know my first novel got better because of the criticism and now my agent’s reading it and thinks it might work. So, that’s some food for thought. Also, it’s good to have a couple of projects going at once, so that when you get a rejection on one, it doesn’t diminish your excitement about the others. Plus, each new work is going to be better than the last (hopefully). I recommend a writer’s group, if you don’t have one, because it’s an excellent system of support. We hold each other up when those disappointments come (and they always do). But it just makes getting your book published even better. This is a marathon. (Speaking of…a big OORAH to the Marines for their run this weekend). Hang in there!

  2. I know that this sounds a little like ignoring the problem, but I only very briefly think about the awkward moment one (or maybe two) more times, say “Oh well” to myself, and decide to be better the next time. You can’t change what happened, so you just have to deal with what’s coming next and try to be better. I’m pretty critical of myself, but its short lived and I don’t tend to dwell on it.

    I’m also overly optimistic, so I often tell myself that everything is going to be okay regardless of what has happened. This frequently slips out at work when anyone is stressed. Thinking like this usually leads me to believe that if everything is going to be okay, then there really isn’t even a big problem… there is just something else to improve on.

    I probably learned to think like this through playing sports – they definitely help to practice being positive and to stay in this kind of mindset. It would be incredibly difficult to do anything in any sport if you were worried about your last mistake. Yoga and CrossFit really help with this too – each class I am making some kind of mistake, or I’m not as good as I would like to be, but I’m almost always better than I was the class before too. I can always say that I’m going to be better next class. This definitely carries over into other areas of my life.

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