Hi, Hater! (Or: The Different Types of Criticism)

Now, if you’ve been on the Internet as long as I have, then you’ve more than likely come across the dreaded term “hater”. That boogeyman of the Internet. Always watching, always waiting for you to slip up so they can claim your soul.

I’ve always qualified a “hater” as someone who seeks to tear down your successes, attacking your creations with no rhyme or reason. These are the kind of people who you could attribute their crappy attitude to jealousy over the fact that they did not or could not achieve what you have done. But nowadays, people like to throw the word “hater” at anybody who has anything negative to say about something you like, no matter how sound or well written your argument is.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, everything, really. We’re creators, and anybody putting themselves out there is going to be at risk of the same scrutiny and criticism and hate. What separates the good from the bad is how we deal with criticism, and knowing what criticism is worth paying attention to. If someone is criticising your work, answer the following questions before you decide to take any action:

1. Is it specific?
Did the person who made a negative comment about your work specify what exactly they had a problem with? Or, did they just throw a good ole “U SUCK! QUIT NOW!!!1!!1!” your way? If it’s the latter, then just ignore it. Actual criticism is supposed to help you. Even if you hate everything about the work, a laundry list of issues will help you a lot more in the long run instead of some all caps gibberish meant to tear you down.

2. Does it tell you what you can do better?
The next step in improving yourself through listening to criticism is knowing what you can do to improve your writing. If a scene isn’t working for you, let the writer know that. Then, tell them what you would do to make that scene better. It’s certainly a lot better than just being told to delete your scene because they just didn’t like it.

3. Were they trying to hurt your feelings?
The true mark of a typical hater. They don’t want to help you. They don’t want you to succeed. They just want you down to their level. If you do get something like this, the important thing to do is to not take it to heart. And most importantly, don’t write an emotionally charged response to them. That’ll just make things worse.

Not only should you not let hater comments get to you, you shouldn’t let constructive criticism get to you. This is even worse because they’re trying to help you. Also, if you lash out at people just trying to help you, they’ll either never be honest with you again, or they’ll just stop helping you altogether for being an immature jackass.

Knowing the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism goes a long way. It helps you better appreciate the good ones, and lets you dump all the garbage to the side.

Don’t let the haters get you down, and let the critics help you up.

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