Harsh Critiques

Have you received harsh critiques from fellow authors? Most of the time the critiques I receive are very helpful pointing out strengths and weaknesses. Just this week I received a harsh critique that stated my premise was silly because cats do not wear glasses. They went on to say, I had a blatant disregard for optometrists and I was sending the wrong message to children about glasses. That certainly was not my intention, but it did catch my attention.

Why Critiques Feel Personal

Every writer knows how much time and energy goes into our writing. You share your thoughts, feelings, knowledge or imagination in our stories. They are personal to us.

While praise from other authors can be reassuring, disapproval can destroy your self-confidence. Some writers never write again. They give up on their hopes and dreams forever. I was ready to trash the story, but one critique partner changed my mind. She wished there was a book like it when she was getting her first pair of glasses. Hearing that made me feel a little better and helped me to understand that there are children out there who may need to hear this story.

Learning how to deal with harsh critiques is not easy, but it’s an essential for improving your writing. Consider these tips.

Consider the source

Think about who’s offering you the criticism you’re hearing. Contest judges, writing teachers, published authors, agents, editors, fellow writers – everyone is just expressing their opinion. Yes, pay closer attention to industry experts, those who write within your genre, or people with years of experience. They have much to teach us.

Sadly, some people are just being honest. It seems like they are being harsh or overly critical. I have found that those people usually have some connection to the subject matter. For example, if I wrote a story about a child making the basketball team and they did not make the team, they are not going to be as objective when reading your story.

Examine the content

I like to put the critique away, after I read it. It helps me to have a clear perspective before I revisit my story. I often have my writing professionally edited. When I get it back it is usually covered with lots of red ink. Yes, the dreaded red ink. An editor wants to make your story stronger. It took me awhile (and a few tears) to see that the red was helpful, not hurtful. In the end, the edits were great and I could see how much better it was with the edits.

Discard harsh critiques

I learned that over time you can pick and choose what parts of the critique you decide to take or keep for your story. You can discard the harsh criticism. It is important to remember this is your story. I think it is far better to discard the criticism than to trash the story. It is about finding a balance.  

Seek out constructive criticism

I asked a pediatric optometrist to give it a quick read. The optometrist loved that the story was silly and about a cat wearing glasses. He also mentioned that once it was published, he would purchase copies for his office. He was very helpful by giving me a few ideas as to how make the story more authentic. With his ideas and those from my critique partners, I am now excited to write my next revision, instead of trashing this story.


Even highly successful writers find it difficult to move past harsh critiques. If criticism has you feeling badly, remember it still has no effect on who you are as a person. The critique is about your story, they are not critiquing you as a person.

You have to weigh the comments against your instincts. Only you know the true vision for your work. The secret is to not let criticism destroy your self-confidence so much that you give up on your dream of writing.

Keep writing!

With gratitude …

I am glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying. 

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