People do buy the web content I write, and that makes me happy, however. The difference is, when I write web content, I'm writing to give the client what he or she wants, and not necessarily what I want.
Criticism hurts, no matter how long you've been writing for a living. But you do get to where you mentally file it under "Professional, not Personal," and that makes it easier. And when you handle criticism like a professional, you get happy clients and repeat business.
The more you write, the more you learn to recognize your particular shortcomings as a writer. I, for instance, have a tendency to make sentences go on and on. I have learned to recognize and correct this, thanks to some kind, constructive criticism of a short story I wrote ages ago. I also have a tendency to use certain transition words and reference words ("According to ...") repeatedly, but I've learned that letting a piece sit for several hours before editing it helps me catch and fix these.
When a client provides criticism that makes sense, it's a good sign they basically like what you're doing and want to continue working with you. Criticism like, "We like the points you touched on, but please use a more serious tone" gives you something to grab onto. Criticism like, "This is horrible," unfortunately doesn't indicate a client who is willing to help you get it right.
I have learned to deal with criticism by having a supportive network of professional and personal friends who help me out. I can complain to them, and they can complain to me. And I've been doing this long enough to be able to separate valid criticism from outright attack, and to be able to sense when an editor or client might just be having a really bad day.
Next time you are asked to make major edits or do a rewrite, the first step is to take a deep breath. If you really can't face all the red ink at that moment, go have a cup of tea, call up a friend, or work on something else for a little while. Then, bolstered by accomplishing other work or by a friend's encouragement, go look at it.
It may not be as bad as it seems. I have had several occasions where a "major edit" only included adding a couple of links or subheadings. The important thing is that you do what the client asks. You may not think it makes the piece any better, but it really isn't about you. It's about a client asking for something, getting it, and paying you for it. And when you do this and the client accepts the work you will have accomplished something and shown that you're someone who is reasonable to work with.
Keep in mind that this refers to reasonable edits. When clients really are unreasonable, say, repeatedly asking for rewrites and major edits on pieces they're paying you very little for, it's time to reevaluate and perhaps end the relationship.
After a morning or a day of dealing with criticism and making corrections, try to schedule some time to work on that cookbook, poetry, screenplay, or novel you have on your hard drive. In that little world of your making, you're in charge.
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