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How to Pick Yourself Back Up: On Critics (and Trolls)

How to Pick Yourself Back Up: On Critics (and Trolls)

by Jennifer King

Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud. Any of us will put out more and better ideas if our efforts are appreciated. -Alexander Osborn

Delicate Lily-flowered Tulip

Delicate Lily-flowered Tulip

Critics come by the dozen toward anyone who is creative or stands out as a leader in the crowd. The age of the internet has given megaphones, often anonymous, to Critics, well-meaning and the opposite. Freely, they dole out loud dissatisfaction and offer what they would do differently. To Critics, defects are evident by the fistful.

It’s interesting, being on the Creative side of life. I watch and listen often to the writers and artists and creatives bemoan their anxiety as they listen to the reviews pour in on their work. Namely authors, new or experienced, get twisted in two by a critical review on Amazon or Goodreads, etc. I don’t blame them. I can only imagine how I will feel when I get there, when it is my turn to stand up and have darts thrown my way. I’m sure it hurts.

Michael Hyatt writes a great post on Friends, Critics, and Trolls. Friends he identifies as people we know and respect who offer feedback, whether positive or negative. Critics are those who are neutral, not trying to tear down, but trying to offer an opinion. I’m always fine with that, too, as each of us is entitled to our own opinion. But those who express that opinion as a way of building himself up and tearing someone else down doesn’t qualify as good or entitled– those folks are Trolls, as Michael Hyatt calls them.

The creative process needs freedom, and creativity thrives best in the blissful realm of ignorance of critics. There has to be a way to turn the negativity off for the writer and artist. This quote, I think, says it all– for Presidents probably get the most amount of criticism of any individual in society. Teddy Roosevelt knew the critic, and how to stand up and move on:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

-US President Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

As Creatives who need to CREATE, we need to get up, dust ourselves off, and move on … knowing that only the person who has stood in that same difficult arena has the ability to give an accurate and worthy assessment of a creative work. Until then, Creatives stay in that delicate zone of artistic productivity.

How do you feel about Critics? About the ones who haggle and troll their way to bringing you and your work down?