Be Constructive

  • Constructive Criticism

    Learning any new skill can be a sensitive process, particularly when it's a creative one, because it's close to one's heart. It's important to know that constructive criticism in a creative skill is just as important as in something such as say, rock climbing, or math. You don't get better in a vacuum!

    Let's look at what constructive criticism is first:

    "Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one."

    Some examples might be,

    "The steak you cooked was really tender, but it might be even better with a little rosemary and a little less salt next time. Thank you for cooking for me!"

    "You're improving on your artwork, these colors look great! I have some books I could let you borrow on anatomy that might help you improve even more."

    "You have a really strong grasp of your character's voice, but it looks like you could use a little help with grammar. These are some resources that helped me out!"

    Let's look at what it's not:

    • A comment that attacks you or makes you feel guilty for enjoying your hobby.
    • A comment that is worded cruelly and without helpful advice.
    • "Advice" that brings another person down or urges them to quit trying to improve.

    This is called Destructive Criticism, and it's not cool. If you ever experience this on JLU, bring it to Staff's attention because it is a form of bullying.

    Some examples might be,
    "You're not good at writing girl characters."

    "The way you write is annoying."

    "Your grammar sucks. You should just stop trying and find a new hobby."

    Those are all pretty sucky things to say, right? That's not how we operate here. Not now, not ever, and we come down pretty hard on people who do. But let's suppose someone is trying to give you constructive criticism you didn't ask for, or that you don't agree with? That's pretty annoying too, right?

    First of all, trying not to give criticism where it's not wanted. Sometimes people like to improve on their own time, and they're not in the right headspace to receive criticism at the moment. There can be a multitude of reasons for that. It's not up to you to know those reasons, or even agree, but you do have to respect that decision.

    So on the other hand, you might have asked for help, but the response you got isn't really what you were looking for, or you really don't agree. What do you do?

    Say, "Thank you." That's it. That's all you have to do. Say thank you and move on with your day, and usually people will leave it at that. They're not out to get you or make you have a bad day, after all. They were genuinely trying to help you, even if it kind of fell flat. So remember to be gracious all the same, and maybe even consider if there's not a nugget of wisdom in that advice, even if it rankles at the time.

    If they keep on giving more advice and you've had enough, tell them so, but phrase it politely. "Thanks for the advice, I think that's all I need for now," usually gets the hint across in a way that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.