Author Topic: does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?  (Read 770 times)

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does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?
« on: February 03, 2009, 02:05:47 AM »
I've always had people tell me I'm a good writer until I got a negative review today  :sigh: So, I'm really wondering if I should be writing.

Offline firstborn888

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Re: does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2009, 05:44:06 AM »
I've always had people tell me I'm a good writer until I got a negative review today  :sigh: So, I'm really wondering if I should be writing.

Can't please all the people all the time  :thumbsup:

Offline Cardinal

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Re: does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2009, 05:59:50 AM »
 :cloud9: I think if you read some biographies of well known authors, they might tell you how many dozens of rejections or bad reviews they got before they "hit it big". Other biographies I've read about people in other fields, also usually have many failures, sometimes literally thousands before they are "successful". I think besides obvious tenacity, the common denominator was that they loved what they were doing too much to look at the "failures". Be encouraged; if you love what you do, you can only get better and better..... :thumbsup: Blessings....
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Re: does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2009, 06:23:38 AM »
Unless time and more reviews under your belt tell you that this particular piece that you got a bad review on wasn't your best effort, then very often the likelihood is that if it was a passionate piece in some way, whether generating good or bad emotions, you might have simply taken someone somewhere they weren't prepared to go.  Or, they had a preconceived idea that to generate this or that emotion, or to convey this or that idea, that you should have gone about it in an entirely different way. 

Lots of folks that have never written many pages all at once have preconceived ideas about how your finished product ought to come out.  Or, on a rare occasion your writing might have reminded someone of some other piece you've never heard of, and you're the victim of an unfair comparison when they wouldn't even cite the work they had in mind so that you're left wondering why they thought something was either total crap or deficient in some small enough of a way for them to find it annoying enough to give you a bad review. 

Tiger Woods, the golf legend, doesn't always have the kind of game he intended, and even if you're eventually more famous than Spielberg, you'll still always have folks that'll think this or that wasn't the best they've seen of a certain genre, didn't speak to them, or that in some other way they find it deficient.  Critics are a part of life and when you do your best, something just honestly either wasn't for that critic in particular (which is fine since not everything speaks to everyone at the same level or about the same things), or your work will be appreciated a lot more in the future. 

Michael Philips wrote a foreword to one of the George MacDonald novels that he'd "edited for today's reader" that when he'd first read it years ago, he really didn't like the work at all.  But he'd committed himself to doing an edition of the entire trilogy that this was the second book of (if I remember correctly) and when he went back over it those years later for the edition that he prepared for publication, he was totally astonished at how good it was and that he'd completely missed the main idea, or the whole point, those years before.  He had never understood the story to his own embarassment and now the implication was, in this foreword that he wrote, that it was one of his favorites after he finally understood it. 

Just as people can be under appreciated, writings can be prematurely judged only to be respected, well received, and cherished years later.  Excellent cooks go through the same thing.  Something could be totally fabulous to both of us, yet some critic won't find it sweet enough, or spicy enough, or sour enough (depending on what it's supposed to be), or it'll have the one ingredient that gives that critic a rash -- in which case you can definitely count on a lousy review in that situation -- or the waiter didn't get it out to him fast enough so that it was cold when he got it, which always reflects upon the cook, unfortunately, etc. 

Critics compare works within a genre, whether you're talking about a dish or whether you're talking about a book, play, poem, song, etc.  Whether or not they tell you what they're comparing your stuff to, everybody's already got an opinion before they've reviewed your work.  It's like people that prejudge relationships and people by body type, style of dress, or some other way.  Blond jokes come from the fact that there are some ditzy blonds out there that some have come across in the past.  Yet an equal number of blonds are world renouned philosophers, theologians, professors, mathematicians, psychologists, relationship gurus, etc., etc., etc.  The moment you're gutsy enough to be open to feedback about your work, then somebody's going to be a wiseguy!

Blow it off and continue to do your best.  Distance yourself from the criticism emotionally and look at it objectively.  If something in particular was cited about your work that got criticized, weigh carefully whether or not it's helpful for a second edition or whether they were just being a snaught.  Occasionally a critic that tells you why something's so wrong with what you did will make you rich if it makes you rethink through the whole thing on how it could be better and ultimately a best seller.  But as I've said, one critic of your work could have simply been taken somewhere by your work that they weren't prepared to go, or you're being compared to another author they like or despise, or they're full of ideas of how it should have been done but no published works of their own besides the review.

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2009, 08:52:28 AM »
Especially if it's a professional reviewer it means totally nothing.
I've seen so many reviewers totally breaking down something (movies/music)
Guess what; it became the blockbuster of the year.
Or the other way around: they glorified the movie/book because of the 5 layered plot. That's so often mainly to show they are so smart that they understand the plot. The public often doesn't agree.

Another thing is what did the reviewer expect. If your book is different from what the reviewer thought it was then the scores drop regardless if the book is good or not.
1 Timothy 2:3-4  ...God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved...
John 12:47  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous ...

Offline Akira Takahashi

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Re: does a bad review mean I'm a bad writer?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2009, 05:37:57 AM »
Don't worry about bad reviews and rejections.  I get them all the time, but I also get a lot of praises.  Often times, reviews speak of a person's taste as well.  I both write and do reviews, and I know for certain that some things just aren't my cup of tea, and because of it, I tend to view the entire peice of work in a bad light.  When I do that, it's not because I don't think the writer, director, programmer, etc. should quit his/her job, but because I didn't find this particular work very enjoyable, and people with tastes similar to mine might not like it.  That's why when I get bad reviews, I tend to write a lot of it off as the person just not having tastes like mine.

Also, take constructive criticism as praise instead of rejection.  I remember the first time I got real criticism, and it hurt at first.  However, I realized that I could use it to improve.  Ironically, this particular criticism wasn't even for any of my professional work!  It was for a Harry Potter fanfiction chapter that I rushed through.  Strange how our most helpful criticisms can pop in things you considered irrelevent, eh?

And also remember that a lot of times our critics are not our enemies.  Particularly if one person in particular criticises you a lot.  Because they keep coming back, it means that they take an interest in your writing and they want to see you do well.  You won't get 5 stars all the time, and that's surprising difficult to accept.  In high school, I got the highest score on my standardized writing test in the school's history and the highest in the State!  I was always praised for my writing, so when I finally got criticised, it felt like a knife.  But you learn that criticisms are often times a whole lot more helpful than praise.