Ever read a one star review of your own work? It’s brutal. Cuts so deep. Really makes you doubt your own creative talent. Like you’ve just been kidding yourself this whole time with your crappy art, and maybe you should hang it up and move on. If that ever happens to you, before you go and set fire to all of your art supplies, try this exercise.
ONE STARRING — Using negative reviews of work you love to gain perspective, humility and inspiration
Go read a one star review of one of your heroes. Find an artist whose work has changed your life, and find out what the haters say about them. It’s a wonderful balm to your creative soul. And you quickly realize a few things. First of all, everyone gets bad reviews. Everyone. There’s no such thing as a creator who’s universally loved. It’s the price of admission for putting yourself out there. You’re not alone, you’re not the first, and you’re not the last. Two, if a random person took time out of their busy day to publish a review of a thing you made, even if it is negative, you’ve already won. Do the math. Many people don’t even make art, and for those who do, their art is ignored. Obscurity is the norm. And so, what a gift and privilege that somebody paid real money for your work, didn't like it, and still felt compelled to spread the word about it. We should all be so lucky.
Here's my favorite part about reading star reviews about my heroes, or about anything for that matter. It will remind me that there are always going to be people out there who hate themselves. And from time to time, I'm going to be the target of their vitriol. Not because my work sucks or because I did something wrong, but because I was caught in their blast radius. And that’s okay. Because I'm okay. It’s funny, you read some of these one star reviews, and you can’t help but wonder, is this person just talking about themselves? They must be. Their anger clearly has nothing to do with the thing they’re reviewing, and everything to do with the fact that they don’t love themselves.
When people spit vitriol at your work, remember this. The mere fact that you made something, put your name on it and shared it with the world, nobody can take that away from you. All the one star reviews in the world can’t compete or compare. And that's the big secret about art. It’s not about the thing you make, it’s about the person you become when you make it. Where do you get your negative inspiration?
Feel less alone as a criticized creator
Bolster confidence in your work’s impact
Remind yourself how far you’ve come
Covert negative energy in a positive executional direction.