A to Z Challenge: Critics

Here for the IWSG post? Click here. Here for more advice for beginning writers? Pull up a chair.

Well, new novelists. A few months into seriously writing a new novel, you’re going to discover that you’ve mutated.

Yeah. Like the X-Men.

You’re just not a normal human being any more.

Personally, I think this is great, because normal is… well… boring.

You’ll see yourself differently and you’ll look at the world differently. And sometimes, the normal people will speak. And you’ll think they might as well be speaking Swahili.

But today, I’m going to introduce you to another mutation in the human race. Here’s some info I want you to remember.

Name: Critic
Race: Human
Class: Asshole
Language: Bullshit

Description: The critic is a versatile and dangerous natural enemy to the writer. Usually, their calls take one of these forms:

  • So what’s your real job? 
  • Do you really think you have something to write? 
  • All the stories have been written already. 
  • But you’re not published, are you? 
  • What could there possibly be to writing a novel? (Implication: that you’re a prize idiot for taking long to finish writing.)
There are many more, but you get the idea. Their attacks are civilized, but if they hit home, they’re absolutely deadly to your muse. Do not. I repeat. Do NOT let their attacks stick. 
Defense: I prefer hitting them in the face with the shovel. But since that’s sort of illegal, the better idea is to use sarcasm. Or, if you’re the type of person who never gets the snappy come-backs, there’s another full proof way to get a critic to froth at the mouth shut up:
Practice the bestest best of your smug wise-ass smiles. Got it? No teeth. It makes you look like a werewolf. Good. 
Now. Repeat after me: 
“Why don’t you write a book and then ask that question again? Because right now, you haven’t a clue.” 
And then you walk away and pat yourself on the back being civilized while putting the critic in his or her place. 
Probably while contemplating a short trip to the garden shed.
So vets. How do you deal with critics?

58 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: Critics

  1. Knowing my luck, the person would do that, land a great agent the first week of querying, a book deal the following week, and it's a bestseller the moment it's launched. 😛

    I usually just roll my eyes at these people.

  2. Haha I go with hitting them in the face with a shovel too.
    That's one thing I love so much about the blogging world. Like Mama, I rarely talk about writing outside of this community because of comments like the ones you mentioned.

  3. LOL – the shovel is tempting. Kidbits has a similar post today about “chiding” from critics. I started being “open” about being a writer just a few years ago, and the reactions are definitely varied and intense. “What makes you think you're a writer?” pushed me out of a writing slump one time, so sometimes there is a silver lining in the criticism cloud. I realized after they asked the question that I felt passionate about my writing and I believed in myself – I had been waffling before that. It's odd how that works. I can criticize myself, but someone else . . . no way.

    I try not to let negative comments stick to me, but some of them invariably run around in my head like little thought-poltergeists. When they annoy me too much, I go to a list of nice things people have said about writing – ones that I've written up as an ego-booster, and I drown them out with positivity.

    I love your response, btw, it's awesome!

  4. …and that's the reason why I DO NOT discuss any “writerly things” with non-writers…
    I've also discovered another lot of people who secretly ENVY you for being bold enough to say you are writing a book. But they'll never admit it. Instead, they join the critics…

  5. this has been a big topic on many blogs. I've decided not to talk about writing except to writers. It's a different language. Of course this leaves me with only one real time friend to talk to.. My fav experience was when a handy man came to the house to fix stuff. “Ya know I've been thinking about writing a book about my funny experiences at work. Everyone laughs at the stories.” I lieterally sat him down and explained. He's not gonna write a book – thanks for the vent lol

  6. sassy speaks and all the comments are useful indeed. On my side, I don't 'discuss' this with my friends. In ages past when my book was published, I have to say that sadly they (in my bookclub) were not congratulatory at all, and showed NO but I mean ZIP ZILCH interest at all. No, they never read it. No, they never said when I said I could not attend the next book club because I was going to be away to be interviewed or whatever or talk about my book at a literary function, well, that's great and I hope it goes well etc .. So – I say naught. And no, no-one save for a few know that I am writing another book …
    That's ok … I am ok with that.
    Great post Misha! And SO WELL DONE that your book has been sold!!!!!

  7. Ah, the “What are you doing for humanity?” types. Yeah, I used to run into them all the time when I told them about my research. They'd say stuff like “and how is that curing cancer?”

    To which I always responded, “And how are you curing cancer? Why do I have to be the one to do it? Why can't you quit your burger flipping job and go solve the mysteries of DNA.”

    It's a little different for writers, but art is absolutely essential to the soul.

  8. Hi Misha,

    I'm not a vet and Penny the Jack Russell dog can vouch for that. I will add and I'm still waiting, but I have never been criticised about my writing. Okay, one person was rather silly and told me to use paragraphs when I was actually using paragraphs. What they meant was they wanted me to space out my paragraphs.

    Like this..

    And this…

    Take care, Misha.

    Gary 🙂

  9. Hi Misha,

    Thank you for dropping by my blog!

    I find that I don't mention that I'm a writer to most people. So few get it!

    Since I don't have any friends IRL who write, the way I deal with rude remarks is to commiserate with all my writing pals online!

    ~Tui Snider

  10. Every so often I run across the minion of The Critic, the Troll. The Troll can only survive if you respond, so make sure to keep silent. As for The Critic, I'm sure I will cross paths one day. I just hope I can keep my cool and not hit them in the face with the shovel. 😉

  11. LOL.. I love the shovel idea but I don't think they serve chocolate in prison.
    I get some strange comments for sure and usually access each situation. Once I tell people my book is the true story of my brothers murder they usually have no comeback.
    I can say with all honesty in the year my book has been out the critics and a few fake reviewers, although their words stung at the time they have helped me grow an thicker skin which I'm sure I will need when the next book comes out.
    Great post…

  12. Awww…we really can't hit them in the face with a shovel? But that's what I've been doing…shoot, I probably should go hide those bodies better…

    ~darts away~

  13. Wish I could pick up a shovel as well but I try and harness that energy into thinking about what it will be like when I do publish. Although I'll probably still get the “oh so I can't find your book in a book shop?” to which I will reply: “When was the last time you were in a book shop?”

  14. Luckily, I haven't had to deal with many.

    My plan is to keep quiet, keep working, and then publish the best darn novel I possibly can. Success is the best revenge. 🙂

  15. This is super-hard. I hate critics. I do not have a snappy comeback, but I wish I did.

    I think it is best to not add “fuel to their fire” by engaging at all. I just give a blank stare and walk away. Maybe pretend I don't speak English……….

    (I have written 3 books, all published on Amazon.)


  16. I had one critter from my online writers' group ask, “Who do you think would want to read this?” Implying, no one, in her opinion.

    Every drop of blood in my body instantly boiled. I calmed down and then composed a very polite email that said, “Well, from my blog and Twitter followers I see that the type of people who follow me include….” then I went on to detail the characteristics of many of my common followers.

    She never critiqued me again. 😀

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