This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, which seems to have touched a nerve. In case you’d rather not review it, the post detailed ways of dealing with the unsupportive, overly critical people in your life. I’ve got a few more bones to pick on that topic. Let’s get down to it.
1. Don’t Waste Time Defending Yourself to an Asshole.
Unless you really are hurting people, or making an utter nuisance of yourself, there’s no reason to respond to unconstructive criticism with anything more involved than, “Thanks for your concern.”
The gratitude doesn’t have to be genuine, and it can be as sarcastic as you wish.
Instead of spending time trying to set a negative person straight, go work on your art. Earn the applause of mutual friends, critics, heroes. That’ll drive your opponent nuts, or eventually force them to admit that they’re wrong.
Concocting a retort that refutes their libel, indicts their moral character, and calls a rain of frogs down upon their head may be satisfying, but it’s also distracting you from working on that one perfect new line for your current song-in-progress.
2. No Feedback isn’t Bad Feedback.
People have different attitudes about getting low-volume response to their efforts: some think “Well, nobody’s yelling at me to stop, so I must be doing alright.” Others suspend judgment and actively ask other people for their opinions. Others see their worst fears confirmed by what they perceive as awkward silence.
If you’re the type who immediately takes lack of encouragement as though it were actively negative, question whether you’re overreacting.
At worst, silence is a challenge to you as an artist to be provocative, to tap that vein. Meet the challenge.
3. Keep the Critics OUTSIDE of Your Head.
There are comments and criticisms worth considering and then there are outright beatings. Don’t take the latter home with you. Focus on your art. Nothing else matters.
4. Compose a Piece Called “Perfume of a Critic’s Burning Flesh.”
John Zorn did this for his band Naked City. I bet it has a special place in his heart to this day.
5. Cut Worthless Ties.
If a person is sucking away at your time and energy without contributing back, and they’re still complaining about you despite everything they should be grateful for, you can minimize the time you spend around that person. If they’re not giving anything back, and you don’t lose anything by cutting them out of your life, I say sharpen your scissors. This may seem extreme to some, but I think that parting ways is a completely acceptable solution.
Especially when weighed against the unproductive, bad-for-all-parties solution, which is to just snap one day and smack them in the groin with a croquet mallet. Nobody wants that.