5 ways to deal with a bad review

How do you cope when the work you've laboured over for years receives a less than flattering reception?
Bad review. Image is of a man's torso, wearing a suit and stripey tie and pointing out à la Lord Kitchener. His finger is touching a yellow star, the only one filled in a row of five.

Ouch. So you’ve sent your creative baby out into the world and it received a bad review. It hurts. We understand, but before you become too invested and woebegone about it, here are five ways to combat feelings of inadequacy, pain and anger.

Remember, it’s just one person’s assessment and their perspective is, of course, subjective, like all criticism. Obviously your work, for whatever reason, did not chime with their expectations. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a badly written piece, unsuccessful work of art or failed theatrical production, but that it did not work for this particular reviewer, who came to it with their own set of prejudices, preferences and biases.

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Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy