Sticks and Stones

(A reblog from 2018)

Remember the old playground chant?

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

lead type

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.

Looked at another way…

Rosslyn Castle in Scotland is built on a steep incline. From the front it looks like a modest house. On the other side, it rises imposingly from the riverside below. (Click here for photos.)

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 make up your own mind.
  • 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, maybe that’s their loss.
  • Some people are just trolls. That’s their problem, not yours.




How do you deal with negative feedback?


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5 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. It’s important to always remember that all feedback is subjective. What one person sees is going to be different from that of another person. It always amazes me when I have a piece of mine critiqued in multiple places. In one room someone may not like a certain way I weave humor in my memoir. Others may love it.
    Keeping in mind that everything that’s said by others is mere suggestions.
    I remember a couple of years back I posted a story in a Facebook group to be critiqued. One of the group members told me how I could change something in my story. I thanked him and got busy reworking the story.
    When I reposted it that same guy who made that particular correction became very angry with me. He said, “I see you didn’t make the corrections.” He was very indignant about it.
    I reminded him that I wasn’t obligated to implement his suggestions. I reminded him that he’s not God. The audacity, but I had to restrain myself. I still can’t believe how others can get so arrogant. I doubt that he learned anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was in an online peer review group, I found, on the whole, the female reviewers were kinder (or more tactful) then the male readers. But also, the male writers were more likely to suggest I changed things to write the way they did, while females were more flexible regarding style. The feedback was always worth reading and considering, but in the end, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    And you can’t shoehorn your writing into someone else’s shoes.


  3. I can be blunt and sensitive when need be and I personally appreciate honestly and dislike sugar coated bullsh*t. When writers put out work and the so called critics don’t give their work justice that must be hard as I admire anyone who has the patience to write a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a relevant topic for me. I recently published my first book and I tried to prepare for feedback that wasn’t generated from the WP community or my own followers. It’s really hard to process some forms of feedback but I’m learning that not all people are going to respond positively to my work. Like you said we all have differing backgrounds, expectations, and often we enjoy very specific types of writing. If they offer actual feed back I will give it a lot of consideration but sometimes people don’t offer an actual review but use the stars instead and that can be frustrating. My point being, if you put work out in the world, not everyone is going to love it! Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, writing groups can be something of a mutual appreciation society. but sometimes I feel that a response at all would be helpful… at least I’d know someone was reading it.


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