Sticks and Stones

Remember the old playground chant?

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

Sadly, it’s only true in the physical sense; harsh words from those we love or trust often hurt, but unkind criticism from those who don’t know us should be another matter.

Us beginners need to arm ourselves emotionally against criticism of the words we write, songs we sing or pictures we paint. We thrust these creative offspring out into the world, in a way we would never expose our physical offspring, thinking we are prepared for feedback, but hoping for approval.

Constructive feedback is valuable. Explore it and treasure the giver even if, on reflection,  you don’t agree. But not all critics are constructive.

Rosslyn dreamstime_xs_115596149

Rosslyn Castle in Scotland is built on a steep incline. The house that still stands looks like a modest cottage from one side.

On the other side, it rises imposingly from the riverside below  See

And my point is… not everyone is looking at your work from the same position.

I have read feedback from different readers on the same story (not my own) and wondered if the critiquers were all reading the same words.

We all take different things from the stories we read, find different meaning in the lyrics we hear, interpret differently every picture we view. Our appreciation is coloured by who we are, and what associations that creative work has for us.

Because a number of reviewers echo an opinion, doesn’t make that the only interpretation. (The Turner Prize for Art is testament to this.)



Some people are not good at constructive criticism. They mean well but lack tact. Listen anyway and judge for yourself.

Some creative works are harder to understand than others; it doesn’t mean they are less worthy. If people are blind and deaf to the subtleties of your art – that’s their loss.

Some people are just trolls – that’s their problem, not yours.


How do you deal with negative feedback?

Please share – we beginners need all the help you can offer

Next time?

How does your dialogue flow?

5 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

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