Being criticized for your work is scary stuff. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or if you've put 10,000 hours or more into your art. As a creator, your work is very near and dear to your heart. We as people are already self-conscious about what people think of us. The feelings can intensify much more when it comes to what people think about our songs, paintings, poetry, scripts, and similar forms of art. How can you deal with it in the best way possible?
One important thing to do with this is to understand that criticism can come in two different forms. A critic can be constructive or they can be destructive. You will want to take different approaches when it comes to each type of feedback. Constructive criticism is less likely to make you want to get angry or violent and can really be a key to growing as an artist. Destructive criticism can literally go in one ear and out the other if you don't want to pay it any mind.
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Although most constructive criticism is tactful, it can still be pretty tough to hear. Make sure you're mentally prepared to be receiving feedback on your work that is near and dear to you. Be in the mood to listen, not to get defensive. Keep your energy high so that the criticism won't beat you down too badly. Make sure you've gotten a good meal in and are feeling your best.
Vulnerability is really key if you are having a dialogue with the critic directly. You don't want to feel like you need to save face or be cold while getting feedback. It's okay to get emotionally involved in the process as long as you aren't being disrespectful or annoying about it. Being open and real with the critic will allow you both to have more fluid and in-depth communication about how you can get better.
You may receive feedback that doesn't make sense to you because of how you operate individually. Try to see yourself in someone else's shoes. There is often what we like to call a blind spot when it comes to what we see or hear of our talents. Even though you can't see or hear where room for growth will be necessary, you may want to adjust depending on how important your audience's perception of you is to you. If your art is all about your creative expression no matter what people think, you won't need to reflect much.
All forms of art can be very subjective. What one person will think is amazing, someone else will think is the worst thing they've ever been exposed to. Not every opinion will be an opinion you need to take with you. Not every part of a critique will be something that you need to take with you. If you receive a critique that you just don't think makes any sense and you have never heard from anyone else, just keep it moving.
Getting a third opinion isn't a bad idea if you want to get more perspective on the feedback you were given. Sometimes, a critic can have a way with words that people around you and your art just didn't know how to express to you, or they didn't have the expertise for. See what friends and family think about the critique of your work and get a better judge of if it really makes sense to internalize.
Hopefully, your constructive criticism will be wrapped up in some positive feedback as well. It can be a natural human response to focus on all the bad way more intensely than the good things that were said, but don't forget the good stuff! Even though there is room for improvement in your art, you are already well on your way in your journey which you should be very proud of.
This critic has taken the time to give you feedback that has the potential to make you even better than you already are. Show your manners and give them some thanks! Critics don't hear thanks enough; they are so happy to get warm feedback on their feedback sometimes that they'll go the extra mile and hook you up with something or someone thanks to your kind nature.
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This can be the hardest tip to follow; I find myself still working on having control over my reactions every day. It's one thing to feel like you can barely control your emotions, but it's a separate thing to be in control of your reaction. Emotions will run wild thanks to our active and sometimes crazy brains. You may feel pissed off even if you don't want to. You may feel extremely sad even though you don't want to. The one thing you can control, though, is how you choose to react to the critic's opinion.
Who's hating on you? What are they doing with their own time and their own art? A lot of criticism stems from people being unhappy with their own lives. If you're getting bad feedback from people that are in direct competition with you, throw that out the window. If the people bad-mouthing you are friends and family members of your ex, throw that out the window!
Some places are hot spots for trolls and haters. If you're getting criticism in your Youtube comments or in a hateful Reddit group, don't sweat it. People love to tear others down when they have a safety net of anonymity. The trolls could be kids, racists, sexists, or people past 50 living with their moms and no motivation to do anything for themselves.
Sometimes, if you're in the right mindset, you can receive the criticism and laugh it right off. This especially works if the feedback is ridiculous or humorous in itself. While everything can seem dire and every bad comment can seem like the end of the world, a good laugh can be an effective way to let a comment roll off of you. A lot of critics just want to get a chuckle or get you angry. Either way, a laugh from you will make you a winner in the scenario.
Sometimes, destructive criticism can also have a bit of constructive ability hidden deep in the insults. If you want to take the high road and you feel like you are in control enough of your reactions and emotional state, consider looking at bad feedback. Sometimes, the trolls and the haters are pointing out your flaws, but they're also making good points. If you have the stomach for it, you may be able to find ways to grow even from your biggest naysayers.
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When getting feedback, your brain will zoom in on the negativity and have a hard time seeing the big picture. If this critique is something that you should respond to, don't feel like you need to respond immediately. I often find that getting criticism hits me hard in the gut at first, but after a few hours, I'm over it like nothing happened. Sending responses with a cooler head hours later has saved me from getting snippy with a client, friend, or family member.
Completely ignoring the haters is great for your mental health. If you come across feedback on your art, take a quick peek at it and you'll likely be able to tell if it's positive or negative. If it's bad, don't read all of it. If there is a way to filter out bad critiques, do it. If someone is telling you something you don't want to hear and you have the ability to, walk away or turn them off. If their critique did get to you in full, do your best to act like it doesn't matter, because it doesn't. Don't give them the satisfaction of a response!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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