“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body.” -Winston Churchill
It feels like fifth grade again; the red slashes and cryptic abbreviations in the margin of your paper. The feeling that what you did wasn’t good enough. Even though you submitted for it, even though you know it’ll make your work better, even though you know you need something different to make the work POP. What do you do if none of that stops the sting, when it comes?
What works to help anesthetize the pain will vary, and for some, nothing may help. But for many writers, shake your head, bring yourself back around to your present. The past may have been hard on your ego, but the marks on your current work are graphite kisses left by someone who actually cares about your work.
If that doesn’t help, prioritize. Decide what you want to read, and stop there. Critique often crosses lines between substantive (or plot development), copy, and line edits. If you’re willing to take corrected grammar (copy edits), then that has value. Save the rest, you can go back for more another day.
It helps to be as clear as you can be about what kind of editing/critique you are looking for. It is frustrating for both sides when critique is disregard because the edits are not what you were looking for.
If you’re in a group, be sure to give at least as good as you got. People often go to great lengths to read (often more than once), process, and then give feedback on work within critique groups. Be sure to have the same courtesy. Curb snarky comments (even funny ones), save them for face to face, when you can actually laugh together.
Be sure to ask people who are discerning. You want the best critique you can get. You do want some opinion, but you mostly want to rely on someone else’s expertise.
Once you’ve left school, even if you are an amature writer, what people tell you about your work only matters to you. Listen to your gut, you’ll know when what someone offers as criticism is constructive. Stay calm in whatever ways work for you (breathing, mantras, meditation, visualization, etc.), and remember, you only hand over as much power as you choose to lose. For most people, you are your own harshest critic, except for Winston Churchill.