How to Deal with Negative Critiques of Your Art

How to Deal with Negative Critiques of Your Art

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence

Hey multipotentialite pals!

Today, I want to talk about the act of putting your art out there for feedback and how both positive and negative evaluations can seriously affect your mood.

Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…

Okay, I AM speaking from experience. Very recent experience, in fact, lol.

As some of you know, I’ve been writing a television pilot script. Well, a few months ago, I started pitching my script and getting feedback. I also entered some screenwriting competitions.

The evaluations started rolling in and I started noticing something very strange. They were either wildly positive or very, very negative. People either LOVED my script or thought it was total crap. The marks were always either very high or very low. wtf?! I was totally baffled.

In today’s VLOG, I discuss my experience putting my very personal project out into the world and I share some tips to help you deal with negative criticism as you go through this process with your own art. Here we go:

Your Turn

How do you deal with negative critiques of your very personal work? Specifically, how do you handle the accompanying emotions when an “expert” hates what you made?

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Want some multipotentialite friends to cheer you on and (gently) hold you accountable as you pursue your MANY projects and passions? Come join us in the Puttytribe this week:

Emilie Wapnick is the founder and creative director at Puttylike and The Puttytribe, where she helps multipotentialites build lives and careers around ALL their interests. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is the author of the award-winning book, How to Be Everything (HarperCollins), and her TED talk has been viewed 6 million times. Learn more about Emilie here.

17 Comments

  1. Andrea says:

    This is so true. It feels like it’s either love, or “meh”. I find the people who are specifically negative are either just like that, or they don’t “get” it (which as you said feels so much worse – makes me despair for humanity) and therefore you’re all bad, rather than “hey, I don’t get it, can you explain more so I can?” The other thing though, is that generally good feedback uplifts us so much, but almost any negative feedback (if it’s something we didn’t already think of) can really shoot you down so hard. I think often it’s our inner reaction to the feedback that makes us see it as great or awful, when maybe the critical feedback itself (the stuff you can’t automatically disregard) isn’t as harsh as it *feels*.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Andrea, that’s a really good point about extremes. And yeah, I sometimes feel like the people who hate/don’t get my script don’t really give it a chance or look for nuance. They just kind of make up their mind about it and write it off. You can tell cause often their feedback is totally baffling and you’re like, “did they even READ it?”

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thanks, Emilie! I can definitely relate! I’ve also gotten very polar responses to my novels and stories. Even for an ENTJ, criticism that isn’t constructive stings – especially when it’s supposed to be from a “professional” source, and they can’t give you a professional critique. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, it’s really helpful! :-)

    • Emilie says:

      Totally. It’s absolutely possible to dislike something and still give the author constructive feedback. That feels alright. But so many of the negative critiques seem sort of lazy. And I agree, “professionals” should still be thoughtful.

  3. Jase says:

    Please do not take negative comments to heart.
    Very few understand multipotenliates.
    It is our complex nature with a variety of interests that only with similar mindsets or those who are open to learning, will or have the capacity to understand.

    Put it out there anyway. Embrace the positive comments and distance yourself from the emotive aspect of the comments and see if there is any value in thise who dislike your take on the matter.
    If there are any ideas that can be converted to meet the needs of the very negative I would inject some humour to lighten it!

    Comments usually tell us about the frame of mind or reference of the person!
    Do I care? Only if I value the ideas and it is going to make a difference to my writing ir impact me in any small way.

    So please keep an onward and upward approach to se ve the masses who appreciate or gain value from your work.

    Do not allow the minds of thise who cannot or do not appreciate the beauty of your writing.

    Jase

  4. Jase says:

    I meant do not allow those who are not able to rise to your level of writing obstruct you from serving those who love your work and has a direct impact on their lives Emilie.

  5. Sav says:

    For inspiration I like to pass on this link to one of the top rated commencement addresses ever. It is Jennifer Lee the Oscar winning Writer and co-director of the movie Frozen. She talks about how to overcome rejection and “fail better”. Miss Lee began her career in Screen writing in her mid 30’s got her first paid job in 2011… Wreck It Ralph… did Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana and now is the Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation. Frozen 2 will be released November 22nd. Go girl… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLwsrVVgeQs

  6. Ernest Gordon says:

    Haha, I’ve found to come face to face with this perspective often and have become immune to this form of positive and negative appraisal over time. Anyhow, when it comes to responding to negative critiques or feedback we must ask ourselves what was the origin of the playwright, screenplay, song, etc. For example, if you were to present a forward-thinking project or philosophy to one who has yet to reach that stage or way of perception the subject in question will respond in a perplexed manner and will deem the idea or project inadequate, or of a low standard. However, is that true? Of course not! But in our society, this division exists and as multipotentialites all we can do is keep holding the fort!

    • Emilie says:

      Yes! You’re absolutely right, Ernest. And I often wondered if the haters didn’t get my script because they couldn’t personally relate to the characters/issues. Cause I’m describing something that isn’t really the status quo experience.

      Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Stacey says:

    100%! Thank you for saying feel your feelings. That’s KEY!

  8. Harald says:

    Before thinking about positive or negative, I make another major distinction: Does this feedback speak about my work? Or does it speak about the inability to get in touch with my work?

    And, most interestingly, the second case might also occur in positive feedback. If my work is just admired from afar (“Wow! Great! I couldn’t do that.”) instead of being enjoyed in close encounter, that positive feedback will not lift me up but, instead, frustrate me.

    So, in my experience, that (and only that) feedback (be it positive or negative) is helpful when someone has beome receptive (and, consequently, vulnerable) to my work and gives me feedback out of this close encounter with my work – with something that contains so much of myself that it cannot be simply tested for meeting or failing someone’s preconceived expectations.

    Otherwhise, it’s just a sorely disappointing “One more human on the face of this planet didn’t get it” experience.

  9. Gary Reiman says:

    Emily read you comment about very positive or very negative. I wonder if so of the negative is jealousy and/or viewed as competition.

  10. Lori Fontaine says:

    Hi Emilie

    Whenever I put my work “out there”, I do it with my chin in the air, knowing that I produced the BEST work that I could. Any negative feedback (OR positive, for that matter!) cannot alter my determination to succeed. Even if there are suggestions of how to improve, I have to be at that level of knowledge to implement those ideas, so until I’ve achieved that level, the suggestions get filed under, “at some point in the future if you want to try…”

    Everyone feels that they have a right to comment on our work and on our lives. It’s the age we live in, I guess. However, we cannot relinquish our personal power by listening to them. Some people want to be kind, so they compliment the work effusively, while others want to “bring ya down a peg”, so they hack away at your heart (which is, after all what your work represents) with sharpened weapons. We should only listen to our OWN hearts.

    At the end of the day, when you look into your own eyes in the mirror, you know if you’ve done your best work. Rather than pandering to opinions, or creating art just in hopes of selling it, my belief is to create with joy and then be patient until the perfect person (or people!) come along to appreciate the work you’ve created.

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