But at the same time, like everyone is reading.
Much like the market from a business standpoint, the reader is always right.
If they didn’t like your narrative, or thought your list of characters wasn’t diverse enough, or thought your prose were a written car crash… they were right. They’re always – always – right. And as a writer, that can be a tough pill to swallow. Especially when there’s no coffee in your cup to wash it down with.
But isn’t it kind of unfair that people get to judge your work like that? That just because they’re able to read words they have this high-and-mighty right to pass your life’s work off as simply good or bad?
Nope. In fact, it’s the fairest thing in the world.
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Literature Is Subjective
You can never write to the taste of everyone. If you could, the literary world would be a very boring place. Imagine a realm in which nobody debated on the relevance of metaphor use in X author’s work, or palmed off the praise of the flashbacks that are used in Y’s series. It would be a boring world indeed.
Debating is human nature. There are no doubts in our mind about that. We’d be willing to bet that when the hairy caveman first discovered fire, his equally hairy buddy trudged over and told him (with wild hand gestures and manic grunting sounds) how to do it better.
Debating gives us a reason to live; a reason to create so freely.
Going back to the concept of the literary world’s subjective nature, even the greats had their doubters. There’s no denying Shakespeare’s excellence and innovation, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain individuals out there who despise his work.
And if Shakespeare – one of the most renowned writers in history – endures flack (sort of) for his wonderful creations, you should have to endure it too. Criticism is one of the best ways to grow in the field of creativity. If Shakespeare was still around to cast a listening ear in on his critics, he’d likely serve as proof of that.
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Empathy In Business; Ignorance In Art
This is an incredibly simple concept, and we really think it can help you in your conquest to overcome criticism. Overcoming it is necessary, but in the same breath, responding to it is just as crucial.
What do we mean by responding?
Well, we don’t mean that you should dive into your Amazon reviews, hunt the person down, and send them a strongly worded message of wrath through Instagram DMs. No. What we mean is, responding in your work; addressing the issues and complaints through the power of your prose.
From a business perspective, you should address every piece of feedback – good or bad. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should change every single thing that each person dislikes about your work, because remember, it’s too subjective. If you did that, you would be left with a mosh of words and sentences that didn’t mean anything. We don’t know what it would be, but it wouldn’t be a book.
By address, what we really mean is analyse. You need to read feedback and critique, and you need to make an executive decision. Is this an actual issue that almost every reader will agree with? Or is it more just a case of one person’s opinion causing them to dislike certain elements?
In instances such as the first case, you need to empathise with the reader and understand why they came up with that sort of critique. From there, you can go about making the necessary adjustments. Whereas, in cases such as the second, you can more often than not ignore the comments.
Feedback is only useful if it’s not subjective.
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From A Creative Standpoint
This is a different ballgame entirely.
From a creative standpoint, you should absolutely ignore every piece of advice you receive. Yes, you read that right. Even if it comes from the most renowned editor on this earth, you should ignore it wholeheartedly.
How does that make any sense?
Well, it doesn’t from a business standpoint.
It doesn’t if you want to take your writing to the next level, honing your craft for the masses to enjoy. It doesn’t if you’re seeking successful publication, and want your work to be taken seriously in the big wide world of literature.
But… If you’re creating; if you’re writing for no other reason than to feel the warmth it sends spiraling through your soul, then you should disregard everything. Everything. The creative side of writing should be the most selfish thing you ever do, and you should care about no one else’s opinion. None matter. None except yours.
On the contrary, the business side of writing is when you should care about everyone else’s opinion. They all matter. And the only one that doesn’t is yours. The only time your own intuition comes into it here, is when deciding if the feedback should be put into action, or if it’s just a subjective comment.
That, at its most basic form, is the difference.
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Creativity Meets Business
Create freely, and edit based on the confinement of the reader’s opinion. Take it all in, act on it if you need to, and then release all that built-up stress in the process of your next first draft. That’s where the freedom returns. And that, is the most simplified version of the writing life.
Live it based on freedom, and on the reader’s feedback. The only difference is knowing when to make the switch.
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