What My Negative Comments Taught Me About Writing Online
I am comfortable with the fact that I am not a brilliant writer. My grammar can be inconsistent, I sometimes struggle with tenses, and I’m fairly sure The New Yorker would turn their nose up at a job application from myself. I write because I can; nobody can tell me otherwise.
But that doesn’t stop some from thinking they can.
Making a living writing online is not for everyone. If you think the masses are going to hail you for your wit and grasp of language shortly after you press that publish button, you’re going to be in for a nasty shock. Over the past two and a half years of running this website, I have noticed something: people will always be quicker to leap on the attack than they will be to applaud. Although my bias is obvious, I truly think we’ve had some exceptional pieces published here that have gone relatively unnoticed. Make a mistake on a review or simply forget a comma in a piece and you can expect the negativity to come flooding your way.
It’s just the way the internet is wired, to look for the bad in everything. I will stop short of calling them “trolls” or “haters”, which I’ve realised is just a catch-all term for “wanker”, but many denizens of the web seem to thrive on inflicting misery on others. The quicker you accept that, the quicker you can deal with the bullshit.
God forbid you express an opinion different to the majority; we’ve even had the obligatory death threat over a song not being to our taste. A song. We weren’t declaring our allegiance to North Korea, trying to claim that The Phantom Menace is the best film in the series, or anything else that would justify a backlash. One of the writers simply stated that they hated a song by a popstar and ending up receiving this:
Almost everyone here is inexperienced, but that doesn’t stop the Vultures from falling afoul of vultures. Some of the vitriol that has been slung our way over a simple difference in opinion could make your head spin. I always tell the contributors not to let the negativity get to them and to try to develop a thick skin.
Because 99% of the negative comments we receive are unconstructive criticisms that serve no purpose but to cause upset, which I have personally been on the end of a fair few times:
At first, comments like these hurt. They ate me up as I tried to sleep; I once spent a Valentine’s Day trying to appease a bunch of angry gamers who disagreed with my choices in some dumb list. The more you let the unhelpful negativity upset you, the more you let who you are as a writer be changed to what someone else wants you to be.
Unless someone has taken the time to write an informed comment on why they don’t appreciate what you’ve written, don’t give them the time of day. If I had allowed negative comments to get the best of me, this crazy project never would have gone further than my room at my grandmother’s house.
Don’t allow yourself to be defeated. Just write.