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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Avoiding the Fetal Position

What do you do when you receive a review or critique that stings? Kick the chihuahua? Cry for your mommy? Reach for a quart of Ben & Jerry’s?

Sometimes it’s hard not to take critiques personally, especially if you’ve knocked yourself out to begin with on a particular piece of writing. It’s a double whammy when that criticism comes at an exceptionally bad time (which could be something as huge as contracting Dengue Fever or as simple as you just burnt the toast and your house stinks).

I understand that holy-cow-whatever-made-me-think-I-could-write feeling. But before you take that feeling and run with it to the bad place, here are some ideas to help you cope with a tough review and/or critique…


Though your instinct may be to ball up the wretched critique and toss it in the circular file, don’t. And I probably don’t need to remind you that stalking is a felon, right? So revenge is not an option. Try the forget-about-it method, instead. Don’t re-read the scathing remarks for at least a week or two. Set it aside and come back to it later. Time really is the great elixir. You might be surprised that you’ll find a truth nugget or two when you do glean over it later on.


Writers are an emotional lot. Yes, even those with stoic Scandinavian backgrounds. As a writer, it’s important for you to find a network of 2 or 3 buddies who are there for you to give you a pat on the back and listen to your sniffles. Often a good venting will clear out the gunk in your head so that you can see the critique way more objectively.


Seriously. I know this sounds like a cheap answer, but in the economy of life, this is where you’ll find wealth. Go to God and give Him all your insecurities. When you get your eyeballs off yourself and turn your view upward instead, all that insecure nausea will disappear. Tough critique/review or not, He’s in charge of your writing or He isn’t. Which is it?

Newsflash: scorching remarks are going to come your way. It’s part of the writing game…so put on your knee pads and helmet, and get out there and play!

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the or on TwitterFacebook, or 


  1. Good comments, as always Michelle. Every year, when I first look at my Genesis scores, I read through them and SET THEM ASIDE. Even the ones that a good, or even, gasp, great!

    It's a good practice not to dwell too much on either for at least a week after receiving them. Key: Don't forget to go back to them and glean what you can, even the ones who already think you're great.

  2. Yes, Michelle--those Scandinavian roots can only take us so far (did you see the runic saying I just posted on my Pinboard? about fighting...). Definitely GOOD advice. Rumination is key. Some of the advice might be applicable, some not. But sometimes we have to rip our manuscripts up a little to make them great.

  3. Michelle, I so appreciate reading your thoughts. I've had my share of--as you phrased it--"holy-cow-whatever-made-me-think-I-could-write feeling." And I keep praying in response. Thanks for the encouragement.


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