Dealing with literary criticism

I’ve received a few comments recently about my poor spelling and grammar issues. This has prompted family and friends to ask what I think about the criticism I have received on this blog and why I approved such comments.

Here is an email I received from my Dad this morning:

A couple of times, I’ve read in your comments, people mentioning your use of English, punctuation and comments like “are you dyslexic?”.

Love the way you deal with them.  We share the same limitations when it comes to writing, but you deal with them better than I ever have.  It’s something Ive always been quite self conscious of, and been limited by.

Anyway, you should make more of your slightly ‘different’ upbringing.  Not much school, it sometimes shows, but fuck you are DOING IT and LIVING THE DREAM.

Thinking about ya mate

Here is what I think;

You can’t be good at everything

Although I would like to improve my spelling and grammar, I sort of just accept that this is something I’ll never be that good at. We can’t be good at everything, so we might as well concentrate on improving the areas that will make a difference to our short/long term goals, or improve in the areas that interest us most. After all, life is to short.

Who’s the criticism coming from?

I learned at a very young age that there are more losers in this world than there are winners, so I have always tried to pay attention to the winners, while brushing the losers to the side. This is especially true when it comes to criticism and advice.

Would a winner waste their time picking at others on the internet? Probably not. This explains why I don’t take these types of comments, or the people who leave them, seriously. Constructive criticism however, is a different ball game. I thrive on constructive criticism – and think more people should embrace it.

Have a bit of confidence

I left school with next to no education and was brought up with no money, but here I am traveling the world while building financial freedom for myself. I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world. I have an amazing family, the best set of friends anyone could wish for, a missus I’ve been with for 4 years who supports what ever I want to do and above all; I HAVE TIME. I have the time and resources to DO WHAT EVER I WANT. If I wanted to fly to New York for lunch tomorrow, I could. If I wanted to take a year out and learn to write English properly, I could. That’s powerful stuff.

Would I have all this if I listened to everyone that has given me advice over the years?

No.

Conclusion

1. Accept that you will not be good at everything

2. Be very careful who you take advice and criticism from

3. Have a bit of self confidence.

If people can’t accept that my spelling isn’t that good, then that’s cool with me – they can just move on to the next blog where the spelling and grammar will no doubt be a lot better than what they would find here.

Question of the day

How do you deal with criticism?

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13 comments on “Dealing with literary criticism

  1. I loved the comment on your guide to Thailand criticising you for spelling and grammar but she herself spelt things wrong :D

    Personally, in life, I take the view that if I am upsetting people enough to make the criticise me I must be doing something right. And always ignore people who point out spelling mistakes, its not big and its not clever, and it doesn’t matter.

  2. Love the blog Chris, can’t say I’ve noticed any spelling/grammar mistakes – been too busy enjoying the quality photos :)

    ps. there’s a handy new tool I found this week (plugs into Firefox/Chrome as an extension) called ‘After The Deadline’ that spots any spelling & grammar mistakes:
    http://blog.afterthedeadline.com/2010/05/06/after-the-deadline-for-google-chrome/

    I loved the comment on your guide to Thailand criticising you for spelling and grammar but she herself spelt things wrong :D

    Muphry’s Law:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muphry's_law

    It always happens… people that criticize someone’s spelling/grammar will end up making a mistake themselves. lol.

  3. If a lot of people say you’ve got a problem, don’t you think you should maybe listen to their advice instead of completely dismissing it or making excuses without even a second thought?

    Also, nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. So if you have the guts to accept and learn from your mistakes, then it’s good for yourself in the long run. Otherwise, you will just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and before you know it, you’ll just look like a self-opinionated bigot in the eye of everyone, with the exception of your family and friends of course.

    • Think you missed this:

      “Although I would like to improve my spelling and grammar, I sort of just accept that this is something I’ll never be that good at.”

  4. I have a lot of trouble mixing up the British and American spellings of many words having been in both school systems for several years. My boss must think I am an idiot since my job involves lots of writing.

    My old man got through the #1 ranked MBA program and into the top exec ranks of a large corp with the spelling of a 4th grade dropout.

  5. Good advice Chris.

    Ultimately, it is far better to communicate vividly with a few typos than write a boring, dry blog that has no errors. Communicating is about the bigger picture, after all.

    Plus, I can tell you most people have trouble spelling, or at least getting in right first time. As someone who writes for a living I get sick of correcting, proofing, reproofing, etc.

    Point is, it is normal and a few errors here or there (why I can’t say I’ve noticed on your blog) and they won’t affect the good quality of yours posts.

    Some people need to find better things to do with their lives.

  6. ah mate dont worry about all of that nonsense, ur living the life and ur helping loads of ppl around the world to see the amazin’ countries uve been to. I actually think ur style of writing is perfect for my liking and it’s not like ur gna check every line for a grammar error anyway becoz its not an essay. I agree with conclusion part 2 :)

  7. I think that your writing style is EXCELLENT for your intended audience, which [I'm guessing] is a diverse mix of travelers, tourists, food enthusiasts, photography fans, country followers (for example, I enjoy reading about Thailand), and many others.

    I enjoy reading your writing, and viewing your photo sets, because they are authentic and true-to-life. Since you are writing and photographing as you are traveling, I expect your pace will be varied, and your “published” products will be of slightly varied content & quality. However, even when you write about the familiar, you seem to consistently find refreshingly different or unique viewpoints.

    Those few readers who comment on grammar or spelling…who knows why this is important to them? There are probably THOUSANDS of blogs dedicated to writing styles [now, isn't that an exciting thought?]…those who love to read for grammar/spelling would be most welcomed there!

    But, those of us who read for fresh insights into traveling, food, & different cultures would prefer you continue with your “hot off the presses” style. Too much polishing or editing would be a distraction, and possibly detract from the immediacy & credibility/realness of your experiences.

    So, my take is that you should be skeptical of most [Internet] criticism, especially if it seems to be irrelevant or mean-spirited. Fortunately, most of that type of criticism can be safely ignored.

  8. You know, honestly who TRULY gives a damn about your grammar and spelling when you write about such exciting places and publish such amazing pictures!! I love coming to your blog because I know that I will never get to physically visit places like that and it’s so great to sort of virtually visit them. I never pay any attention to whatever errors you may have because they just aren’t important in the grand scheme of things. If someone is actually PICKING your posts apart, they have way too much time on their hands and no life. LOL Please keep doing what you’re doing, Chris. You’re making a LOT of people happy with your wonderful blog; spelling and grammar errors included.

  9. Criticism from strangers is easy to take. If someone I love says something mean, it can hurt. If a stranger says the same thing, I think ‘WTF?, what is wrong with that person…?’

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