How to Think About Your Critics

How to Think About Your Critics

It’s easier to be a critic than it is to be a creator. The critic has only to find fault. They believe that the value that they create is in tearing others down. In truth, the critic is so afraid of having their own work criticized that they can’t bring themselves to produce anything of their own. So instead, they criticize.

The critic hates what he sees in you. He hates that you have the audacity, the courage, the bravery to put yourself out there, to create, to ship. Because he can’t bring himself to create, he hates you for being able to do what he himself cannot.

But the critic still wants what you have. He wants to be thought of as a creator. He wants the audience. He wants the accolades. He wants the attention. And he will do or say anything to anything to get attention, mistakenly believing that all attention is good attention.

You don’t owe the critic a response or reply. You don’t owe critic a defense of your creation. You don’t owe him your energy. His real struggle is not with you. His struggle is really with himself. There isn’t a single argument that you can make in defense of your work that will help the critic win the battle he is fighting with himself. Defending your work only feeds the critic, it doesn’t help him.

Pity the Troll

Trolls leave a trail of negativity, criticism, and vitriol behind (especially here in the social web). They don’t understand that in their desperate attempt to be noticed, they’re gaining attention for something so negative that only their brother and sister trolls pay them any heed. Instead of winning friends and influencing people, they alienate the very audience whose attention it is they seek.

Trolls don’t know that their is no real audience for trolls. They don’t recognize how others perceive them.

The only response to trolls is to ignore them. Feeding trolls only gives them the false impression that what they’re doing by criticizing you is actually creating, that it adds value. It doesn’t.

You create because you are a creator. If you create because you want to win over the trolls, you’re creating for the wrong reasons. You create for the people that appreciate your creation. You create for the people that find value in what you do. And unless you are a troll, trolls are not your audience.

Push the publish button.


Have you ever let your fear of the critic stop you from creating or publishing your work?

Was your critic who you really had in mind at the birth of your creation?

How should you feel about the fact that your work doesn’t resonate with people for whom it was never intended?

The most important “block” button is not the one you can click on the web. It’s the one in your mind. Who do you have to be to press the real “block” button?

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  • Roz Bennetts

    There’s so much truth in this I don’t know where to begin or end so I won’t even try.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Well, I guess that covers it then! Thanks, Roz!

  • Bappy Das

    On my view, Critics are the most valuable gesture over the creator. If I remember an Article of Michel Angelo, even he respects the words of his critics if it matched his creations. In fact, a critic knows the value (positive side) of the creation very well before he reacts negative. But true is, A creator only creates every thing of its part including its own critics, where a Critic only polishes the creation to Shine. Of course I believe, the critics are the part of the creation for finishing the touch before the Creation highlighted.

  • Stan Dubin

    Hi there, S.

    Made my way here from Chris Brogan’s newsletter. I did a post on trolls awhile back…wasn’t aware they were known as “trolls” at that time, but I share your views 100%. Ignoring them is the best approach and what you mention in your “Push the Publish Button” about killing them with kindness—that also works!

    Some folks expend a good deal of time and mental anguish over negative criticism and it sometimes sucks the life right out of them. A simple, “Thank you for your views” or passing them over completely would make a big difference to those who create to make more of something, not less.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Stan! I am set on “full ignore.”

  • Stephen Lahey

    Interesting post, Anthony. Reminds me of a conversation I had long ago. Something along these lines: Me, age 7- “Grandpa, why do people say mean things like that?” Grandpa- “Why does a jackass say ‘heehaw’?” Me, age 7- “Because that’s what a jackass says.” Grandpa- “Yes, and that’s all you can expect from them.”

  • Online Strategies

    Good that you caught attention of a critic. That’s the best way to fame.