Do You Want to Improve Your Writing? Learn How to Receive People’s Negative Feedback.


Let’s face it; few people want to receive criticism (unless, maybe, they have a particular kink for browbeating). However, if you’re a writer who wants to improve your craft, you will benefit by training yourself to appreciate negative feedback, even if you don’t love the feeling of receiving it.

One way to do that is by taking a writing class. Where? Gotham Writers Workshop offers online education for all levels of experience. Grub Street Writers runs excellent classes and a fantastic annual conference. I offer private writing workshops customized to the needs of your group. Wherever you choose to learn, find a class that allows you to share your work and read other students’ work to give and receive feedback. It takes time and practice to learn how to give and receive helpful critiques. A writing class is a perfect place to learn this skill.

Once you’ve learned the basics of story, you can try joining a writing group. Some groups have a vetting process and will only accept you if your work meets specific standards. This process isn’t designed to discriminate but rather to ensure that every member has achieved a certain level of writing excellence and is committed to improving their craft, rather than showing up simply to hear praise on their work. Everyone benefits when Crit group members are good literary citizens who will give as much to the group as they take from it.

In between classes or writing groups, I also recommend reading books on writing. Check this post for a suggested reading list.

In short, the best way two learn to pull the nutrients from negative feedback is to subject yourself to lots of it. You may never discover the joy of hearing negative comments on your work. So try approaching the matter with the understanding that everyone’s work needs editing. Being willing and able to listen to what other people think about your work even if you disagree with it will help you edit your piece better. Soon, you’ll appreciate constructive criticism just as you would a spinach salad or any other unsavory yet very healthy meal.