Dealing With Criticism: Navigating Feedback on Your Creative Writing

As a writer, receiving criticism is inevitable. While it can be tough to hear negative feedback about your creative writing, it is important to remember that criticism is an opportunity to grow and improve. Here are some tips for navigating feedback on your creative writing:

Take a Step Back.

When you receive feedback on your writing, it’s human nature to want to react immediately or even take it personally. However, it’s important to take a step back and give yourself time to process the feedback. Take a break from your writing and do something else for a while. When you’ve given yourself time to breathe, come back and you’ll be able to approach it with a fresh perspective.

Consider the Source.

Consider who is giving you the feedback. Is it a trusted friend, writing group member, or creative writing instructor with your best interests at heart, or a random internet commenter leaving their opinion without you in mind? Understanding the context of the feedback can help you determine how much weight to give it.

Look for the Kernel of Truth.

When you receive negative feedback, it’s easy to feel defensive and dismissive of the criticism. However, looking for the kernel of truth in the feedback is essential. Can you use something in the criticism to improve your writing? Even if the input is delivered poorly, there may be a nugget of valuable insight that you can take away. All the best writers have endured negative feedback throughout their careers, so remember to see it as a growth opportunity for your work.

Ask for Clarification.

Ask for clarification if you’re unsure what someone means by their feedback. I’ve had critiques delivered that were vague or unclear. By asking for more information, it helped me understand what the person was trying to say, and I gleaned some helpful insight from it.

Don’t Take it Personally.

It’s important to remember that criticism of your writing does not reflect your worth as a person. Your writing is a product of your creativity and hard work, but it is not the same as your identity. Don’t take criticism personally, and try not to let it impact your self-esteem.

Use the Feedback to Improve.

Finally, use the feedback you receive to improve your writing. A safe environment for such feedback loops is to join an online creative writing course like those offered by Creative Writing NZ ( By working with an instructor, you can work through critiques and different forms of feedback with a professional who can help you navigate what you might see in the publishing industry. Remember, negative feedback is a learning opportunity; use it to keep pushing yourself to grow as a writer.

Receiving feedback on your creative writing can be challenging, but it's essential to the writing process. By taking a step back, considering the source, looking for the kernel of truth, asking for clarification, not taking it personally, and using feedback to improve, you can navigate criticism gracefully and use it to strengthen your writing. So get at it!