Look, haters gonna hate. You can’t expect them to fight against their own natures, no more than you can expect a starfish to walk out of the water and into a bar (calm down, Spongebob fans). And if you’re well-versed in the arts of Twitter, you probably know who to ignore and who to blast (on your knees, minion).
Trolls are a part of writing criticism. There’s always that one measly scumbag on the forums whose life will never be content unless he picks apart your chapter like a little boy might pull off the legs of a spider. He uses the most empirical language as possible coupled with remarks he regards as witty and cutting. I bet you’re real fun at parties, bro.
I’ve made a few blog posts on how to handle constructive feedback, but I believe one more can’t hurt. In a world where millions of dollars are made over the snide exchanges of adults with the temper and wit of 8-year-olds (Reddit, anyone?), however, handling the trolls is a lesson that I feel the need to pass on.
We’ll start with the basics: not everyone who criticizes you is a troll. You need to grow a thicker shell if you want to deal with criticism. Believe me, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain if you just admit that you’re a scrub who needs to get better. The best writers are humble of their skills.
Once you’ve humbled yourself, you need to be able to separate an honest albeit harsh review from a hater’s. Remember, I’m not saying your should identify poor feedback so you can whip out your best witty comeback, I’m saying you should quietly discard a true troll’s opinion. Never argue with someone whose feedback you consider bad or dishonest: simply back away and forget about it.
Haters are usually pseudo-intellectual. Be careful of people who use big words to no real effect, especially when critiquing your work. If you have the time, note some of the words he or she uses and look them up to see if the supposed troll is using them correctly.
Haters also have nothing good to say about your work. Be careful, though: this could just be a lack of contentiousness on their part. If the person you’re talking to has a history of being insensitive, I wouldn’t hold it against them. Try directly asking “Was there anything you liked about it?” and, nine times out of ten, if the answer is a straight “no” it’s a hater. I don’t know, it might just be THAT BAD, but I know a girl who writes like English isn’t her native language and I still wouldn’t classify it as “THAT BAD”…
I also feel that a blog post about haters would never be complete without this piece of advice: don’t be a hater. The urge to pick something apart is as natural to us as eating or breathing. However, don’t get carried away when doing so: I expect you to be kind as well as truthful, but sometimes the truth isn’t kind and you just have to deal with it. Don’t go out of your way to be a jerk, though.
Be thoughtful when giving criticism: don’t give way to feelings of superiority. The moment of your doom is when you stop learning. Whether by giving criticism or taking it, from a hater or thoughtful mentor, there is always something to be learned. And if you wanna be a writer, learning should be your top priority.
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!