What do you do when good-willing people criticize your actions? Do you listen to their advice or do you ignore them?
It depends what do they criticize, right? If they criticize my art, personally I tend to pay attention only to those who are in the same shoes as myself, who are creators. And not only creators but people who show their art to the world. People who are just bystanders - they don’t matter. Anonymous comments on YouTube - don’t matter, nasty comments on my blog - they don’t matter. Some people go so far as to turn off commenting option on the blog completely.
One-star reviews on Amazon for your book? They don’t matter. Five-star reviews for that matter - they don’t matter either.
What about family members? Do you ignore them too? Well, if they are creators like me, I do take their criticism seriously, everyone else - doesn’t matter.
Of course, it hurts to read nasty comments from arm-chair quarterback. But you know what - they haven’t done any of the hard work to earn your respect and trust.
You, on the other hand - constantly create and ship your art, make yourself vulnerable to criticism and put yourself on the line. This is brave. And rare.
When I was just starting to share my organ playing videos on YouTube many years ago, I remember one comment somebody wrote that if I want to teach others how to play pipe organ, I have to learn to play myself without mistakes myself. Apparently he found a few wrong notes in one of my videos. I asked him that I would be honored if he could direct me to some of his videos so that I could learn from him. Guess what? He vanished and never came back to comment.
So as soon as you ask them to show their work, they run away, because they probably understand that they have nothing to show for it.
Real creators never criticize others with the intention to hurt them. Sure, we may say a word or two about how their art could be improved but this is intentionally optimistic feedback.
You might think that it is very arrogant from my part to think this way. Basically to ignore everybody, like Hugh MacLeod writes in his book with the same title. And in a sense it is.
But this is the only way to keep creating and keep shipping.
I know that my writing isn’t perfect, that it isn’t on the level that world-class writers write. But it doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I did my work today and shared it. I believe that practice will make it better over time.
So if you write that this is the worst post you have ever read in the comments, I’m going to ignore it too and I’m not going to beat myself up for that. And if you write that this is the best post you have ever read, I’ll write “thank you” politely also without thinking of myself as genius.
Good and bad feedback doesn’t matter. Otherwise we either grow our egos so much that we think we are the best on earth or we humiliate ourselves and hide our art in the closet and eventually stop creating altogether.
I think we can do better than that.