Fact: The more you put yourself out there, the more criticism you will receive.
Some of that criticism will be useful. It will be helpful and needed. It will make you think and make you work harder. It will make you better.
But the other criticism? That will be nothing but negativity. It will be from people who don’t get what you’re doing and make no attempts to try. Call them haters, naysayers, your parents, whatever. They will knock you down because they can and nothing you do will ever please them.
Not all criticism is useful. I’ve had bad reviews, poor feedback, and negative comments that bothered me for days. I didn’t learn anything from them. They didn’t help me improve my craft. They didn’t inspire me to better myself. If anything, they just made me feel horrible.
Once I was even greeted by a reviewer before the show who was very clearly not excited to be attending.
“I hate magic shows,” they told me.
I was on edge for the entire performance, worried they were going to give me a horrible review. Luckily they were kind with the write-up, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
One reviewer wrote that “Mark Toland is at the top of his game” and my show is a “MUST SEE” only to give me 4 out of 5 stars. It was good to know that when I’m at my best, it’s still only an 80%.
Honestly, I don’t care about the reviews. It’s nice to have a pull-quote or an award or a five star rating to add to the poster, but that’s not why I’m onstage.
I’m doing a show for other people. It’s entertainment. I want people to be completely enthralled for my entire performance. I don’t want them looking at their watch or texting their friends. I don’t want them coughing or shifting in their seats. I want their undivided attention so I can transport them somewhere else for an hour.
That’s not to say that a below-average review doesn’t affect me. It absolutely does! But I’ve learned how to deal with criticism so I can move forward and keep progressing in my career.
Negative feedback is expected and uncontrollable. The more you put yourself out there, the more you forge your own path; the more criticism you should expect to receive.
If you’re doing it right then you’re going to stir the pot. You’re going to provoke a wide range of reactions. The best thing you can do is to not respond.
No matter what happens, don’t acknowledge your criticism. Don’t complain, don’t argue, don’t fight fire with fire. There’s no need to go on a tweetstorm or write a long rant on your fan page. That looks petty and unprofessional.
I’ve faced more rejections than I can remember, been turned down on more projects than I can name. For every gig I’m booked for, another 20 events go in a different direction. But I refuse to let those failures keep me from succeeding.
Ignore the criticism. Shake it off or find someone you can vent to in private. Then move on and get back to work.