It’s human nature to swallow whole all of the praise offered us while spitting out every bit of criticism we receive. We should fight this inclination. Instead, take what they offer, hold it in your hands for a minute, acknowledge it, then drop it on the ground and get back to work.
Critics are fickle creatures who bring their own baggage when they offer feedback. They may sing your praises, laud your work, and anoint it as the next Google or Exile on Main Street or Fallingwater. It doesn’t mean anything. You have to go back to work, and they’re unlikely to anoint you twice. It’s the nature of the beast. And they’re no more likely to be right the second time than they were the first time.
Work that was praised at its creation sometimes no longer exists ten years later. Work that was greeted with overwhelming apathy at launch sometimes gathers steam and reveals its genius over time.
Did you see The Shawshank Redemption in theaters when it originally came out in 1994? Probably not. During its theatrical run, the film barely made back its modest production budget. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards but lost in every category. However, in the ensuing years, more and more people have discovered this movie, and it now appears on almost every list of the greatest films of all-time. How many times have you personally watched it in the last decade? I’d guess at least once.
People are going to love your work. People are going to hate your work. Don’t believe any of them. Time is the only critic with any staying power. And you can’t wait around for that judgement. It’s better to find a handful of people who know what they’re talking about and whose opinion you trust. People who’ve been there before and have the scars to prove it. Better to believe them.
Better still to simply get back to work.
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