Writing Journey

How To Silence Your Inner Critic

You can’t.

Just like how you can’t silence those ‘outer’ critics, you can’t silence your inner critic. But… what you can do, is decide on how to deal with that pesky voice in your head. And, the easiest way to deal with it, is in the same fashion as tackling those critical comments from the outside world. Alas, here’s the irony: the most common advice you would hear is to ignore the critics. Don’t respond to any of them—good or bad. In fact, don’t even read what people have to say about your work. Sound advice? Perhaps. And though ignoring the external negativity is possible—challenging should you decide to try—you can’t exactly do the same with the whispers and taunts from within. It’s impossible to shut out the doubts and mute the negativity. So, what do you do? What can you do?

Personally, I do not disregard both good and bad comments about my work. Yes, I broke the ‘ignore all reviews’ rule. Yes, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. But as part of my practice—Googling for reviews and reading every single one of them—I choose when to respond. And, there are only two occasions of which I do.

The first occasion is a negative review that contains at least one positive thought. It shows that the reviewer took the effort to find one good thing to say. And with such comments, I thank them for their time. After all, they slogged through my work. And despite disliking most of it, they cared enough to say something nice. The second occasion is a positive review that is of a few hundred words. Again, the reviewer took the time to craft a lengthy feedback—not solely praising the book but offering thoughts on areas I can improve in my future works as well. So, in the same way, these are the two occasions of which I respond to my inner critic.

Whenever that little voice decides to ruin my day, I try to find one positive takeaway. “Your writing is too simple,” it says. Well, simplicity isn’t a bad thing! “Your writing will never win literary awards,” it says. Well, I don’t plan on winning awards—I just want to tell stories. “Your writing will never be good enough,” it says… Ah, that one stings.

All right, let’s be honest, sometimes finding positivity can be tough. But when that is the case, I look for ways to improve instead. “Your writing will never be good enough,” it says. Well, at least I’m working on it. “Your work is boring,” it says. Well, I guess it’s time to spice things up! “Your characters are so cliche,” it says. Well, let’s find a way to make them not cliche. Our inner critic may come across as mean, hurtful, and discouraging, but how we respond makes a difference. In fact, our inner critic may be the voice we need to hear to improve in our craft.

So the next time your inner critic decides to speak up, don’t just listen but respond in a way that pushes you to do better in your art. After all, you can’t silence it. There’s no mute or off button for your subconscious mind. The next best thing you can do is use it to your advantage.

Others

Adventures In 2019! [Videos + Community + Guide]

We are 5 days away from the New Year! Are you excited? I sure am! I have a lot of NEW CONTENT coming your way and I cannot wait for you to watch them. Yup, you read that right—WATCH them!

If you have yet to read the past couple of posts, I shared about the FREE creative guidebook and the private Facebook group a.k.a creative community. My goal for both of these projects is to do something more meaningful for all creatives around the world. As a creative myself, I hope that I can foster an environment that allows creatives like YOU to learn, explore, and grow together. And thus why… I have created videos too!

During the past 2 months, I’ve been planning, recording, and editing over 21 videos for 2019. The videos will be up on my Fanpage every Saturday (or Friday—depending on where you are in the world) and will be shared with the creative community, Chosen Generation. Each video takes on one chapter from the creative e-guide, Being The Best In What You Do, without repeating any of the points but adding or looking at them from a different perspective. And, some of these videos that I’m really excited to share are, Why You’ll Never Be Good Enough, How To Make Work Meaningful, and The Best Way To Deal With Criticism!

Additionally, I’m hoping that my collaboration with an ONLINE MAGAZINE will be extended to you too! I would really love to share your stories with the world. So once I’ve worked out the kinks with this platform, I’ll make an official update over on my fanpage and Chosen Generation. So yes, a new adventure awaits in 2019!

Now, what will happen to this blog? Nothing—it’ll be the same as always. There will still be short stories as I intend to continue 3 Words 1 Story and 12 Genre Months in 2019. But, if you’re a creative looking for more content that could possibly help you on this journey, YOU’RE INVITED to join me over on Facebook! I am really looking forward to discovering your passion and talent, while getting to know you on a more personal level. So, I hope to see you on the other side!

Signing out of 2018; Happy New Year and may your 2019 be a better and more memorable year than this!

Writing Journey

Dealing with Criticism

dealingwcriticism
Not-so-fun fact: No one can escape criticism.

Whether it is constructive, whether it is for our works, or whether it is based on what we believe in, we will always be judged. The question is: how do we deal with it?

Personally, I receive the most criticism in my written work. Freely putting my work out there has invited many opinions, and some of them aren’t very nice. So how do I deal with these not-so-nice words? My approach happens in 3 phases:

#1 Resentment

What do you know about writing? If it’s so easy, go write your own book. The plot sucks? Well, trying plotting your own novel. Wait, you’re not a writer? Ha! Haha! You talk big for someone without experience. Pfft!

I previously blogged in Does Blogging Help? on how blogging has helped me learn from and accept constructive criticism. But receiving criticism on the blogosphere from people who genuinely want to help me is different from receiving criticism from people who don’t.

When The Battle for Oz was published, advance copies were given in exchange for honest reviews, copies were placed in numerous bookstores for anyone to purchase, and free copies were thrown in giveaways. The more copies sold meant the more copies read. The more copies read meant the more reviews given. The more reviews given, the higher the chances of negative words to be written.

My response toward the first few negative reviews was outright resentment. I ranted and vented about them to my family. I posted passive-aggressive Facebook statuses. I went to bed angry. But the more I encountered such reviews, the number I grew toward them.

I’m not saying I’m resentment-free. I still internalise a sarcastic comeback toward said reviews, but I no longer rage over them. I believe it is normal to resent negative words. That’s what makes us human And that doesn’t mean we’re sour grapes. So if you need to deal with criticism with a little resentment, do so.

*Disclaimer: Please do not act on your emotion in a way you would regret. Do not verbally abuse a reviewer, and do not hunt them down and smash a bottle of wine on their head. As someone who is being watched (even by a few people), you want to live a life that inspires. Not a life that sets bad examples.


#2 Reasoning

Maybe you don’t like my book because it’s not what you usually read. Maybe you didn’t know this wasn’t an adult book. Maybe you just don’t get my writing style. Maybe you set too high of an expectation.

The second phase I go through after my ears stop steaming is reasoning. I try to find a reason why someone had something bad to say about my work. This phase is not about justifying the critique, but justifying my work itself. This is where I question whether my work is horrible or decent. And the only reason I reason… is to make myself feel better. But my response toward all the reasoning is crucial.

You see, when you start reasoning with criticism, you start asking the big questions in life: why do you do what you do? Are you good at it? Should you give up? Is this passion worth it?

How you answer these questions determine where you go from there. Your answers will either build a strong foundation in self-faith or torch your dreams to ashes. My own answers have only grown my passion for writing. I am not without self-doubt, but I choose to believe I’m more than a negative review. Reasoning reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Reasoning helps me keep the end goal in mind.

#3 Realisation

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a right to an opinion. But I won’t let an opinion change my dreams, and I certainly won’t let an opinion change who I am.

Some days I reach this phase fairly quickly, some days it takes a while. But every time, I will come to realise that opinions do not have the power to tear me down or force me to change. Opinions are opinions, no matter how tactless they are. They are not a command or a law. They have no control over my life.

I can choose how I want to take a criticism. If it’s constructive, I learn from it. If it’s hateful, I use it to drive me toward my goal. I don’t write for the approval of men, I write for me.

Some people will tell you not to read reviews or critiques, because they are discouraging and they stir unwanted emotions. Personally, I encourage you to read and take negative reviews. You’ll learn to tame the monster within, you’ll discover more about yourself and your passion, and you’ll drive yourself to be better. There is always something positive to take out of negative circumstances. And dealing with criticism (not running from criticism) is one of them. When you come to this realisation, nothing can stand in your way.

So, there you have it: the phases I go through to deal with criticism. I’m not sure if this post is of any help, but if there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this, is that you’re not alone. I face criticism – I have my own haters – but I choose not to give up and work toward becoming better. I hope you’ll face criticism the same way too.

Criticism has no power to alter your dreams. Only you have the power to do so.