i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

How to deal with the haters and the one star reviews

One my desk is a book I have written; I am drawing cartoons for it, and formalizing the details to publish the book later this year. And, some days I just look at the book and don’t work on it, because I worry that someone might not like it.

ignore the one-star reviews


Don’t pay attention to the haters

And if only one person didn’t like my book, I would tend to focus on the one hater.

I don’t know why  a negative comment gets stuck in our brain when there are comments that are positive and encouraging.

It is as though the negative comment confirms in our mind what we truly believe. The lies we believe. The lie that what we create is not good. The lie that says if our art is not good than we are not good. Who are you trying to kid anyhow? Pretending to be a writer. Pretending to be an artist. Go back to bed. Sell your easel, throw away your pencil. Quit writing and clean those seven litter boxes. 

One lie has the power to tarnish a thousand truths.
Al David

The voice from the depth of the earth that mocks and taunts. The lying voice that wants us to keep our truth inside our head, the words hidden, locked away, and our paintings in the tubes and in the recesses of our brains, our canvasses blank.

The voice of Resistance. The Resistance that Steven Pressfield talks about in his book, The War of Art. 

My cat, Pooh Hodges, recently interviewed Steven Pressfield for his column, Cat Talk, on The Write Practice. Pooh wanted to know how Mr. Pressfield deals with negative reviews. This was Pressfield’s advice:

 A professional writer (or actor or director or athlete) does not read reviews. I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks of me. Hemingway himself once said you can’t read reviews because “if you believe them when they tell you you’re great, you have to believe them when they tell you you’re a bum.
Steven Pressfield, in an interview with Pooh Hodges, for Cat Talk on The Write Practice

I think I need to write on the inside of my arm with a magic marker, “I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks of me.”

It really is time to stop listening to the lies. It is time to stop giving the lies power. It is time to be bold like Steven Pressfield and Mozart.

I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings. 
Amadeus Mozart


A lie only has power if we listen

Stop listening to the lies

Will you be bold with me?

Will you take a pledge to stop listening to lies? Will you ignore the haters? Will you ignore the one-star reviews and any negative comments?

 Actually, don’t read any reviews.

Trust your own feelings.


keep creating.


 As always I love to hear from you. Click here to comment. Or just scroll to the bottom of my article on my blog.

Love Pamela

p.s. Here is a great article on how to deal with bad reviews. 10 Ways for Authors to Handle Bad Reviews

About Pamela Hodges

I write slice of life stories to help you know you are loved, valuable and worthy just as you are. I am a writer, an artist, and a cleaner of seven litter boxes. I live in Pennsylvania with one husband, four cats, one dog and two birds.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • La McCoy

    Well said. Lets keep the negative down.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Oh boy – do I resonate with this message or what!

    My descent into the black hole of eating disorder began because I CHOSE to fixate on one mocking voice instead of seeking comfort in the 100 loving voices that embraced me! 🙁

    Oohhhh….thank you for penning this heartfelt missive, Pamela!

    Love ya so much

    • Hello Kitto,
      One negative voice, just one and it throws us. Lets take back our lives.
      You are so welcome dear Kitto.
      Keep writing, no one else can tell your story. x

  • DA Schuhow

    My perspective is that if someone doesn’t like it then your story wasn’t meant for them.

    • Hello DA,
      What a great perspective. We don’t have to please everyone.

  • Berdeane Bodley

    Listen to no negative voices about your work, you are the best !!! love from Mom

  • Sue Sutherlin

    Pamela, opinions are like noses . . . everyone’s got one, and they’re all different. No one’s nose is wrong, just different. People are entitled to their opinions. Your article today is so significant because it emphasizes the importance of not taking opinions so seriously (ESPECIALLY the opinions of total strangers!). Even loved ones may not care for your particular style of writing or art. That doesn’t make your writing or art less valid or valuable or beautiful! Do what you do for yourself and for God. Unless it is dishonoring to Him, God loves it and more importantly, He loves YOU. Perhaps by ALL standards one is not a good cook or skater or singer or whatever – if he/she has fun or enjoys doing whatever it is, loves whatever it is, is not harming anyone by doing it, that’s what matters. March on and illustrate your book! Write another one! Keep up blogging! Ignore the opinions (though I hope you appreciate the kind words, which I know you do). Keep in mind the phrase “consider the source” – don’t ever let the opinion of a total stranger throw you off the path.

    • Hello Sue,
      Oh, that is so true, “Consider the source.” And the funny thing is I am worried about something in the future that hasn’t even happened yet.
      And, not everyone has to like me.
      And, that is okay. We can all have our different noses. Loved the analogy.x
      p.s. Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂

  • Shari

    Pamela, Thank you for this. I recently began my own blog. At first I only shared it with my husband, then family and a few close friends. Then I started posting it on my face book page. I would say the comments so far have been positive, but I noticed that I began to question each post and ask myself if I thought it was good enough? Not from a publishing point of view, but rather from an “I wonder if they like this one” view. I don’t like that. My blog is an extension of me. I don’t want it to be a write about what I think someone else wants kind of blog. I am taking your words to heart.

    • Hello Shari,
      When I started my blog, I never shared it with anyone. It made me uncomfortable to have anyone read it. I understand your thought process, wondering if anyone would like what was written.
      And you are so right, may your blog always be truly you. And it would be so hard to know what someone else wants. And we all want something different.
      Would you mind sharing a link to your blog here? I would love to see what you share.

      • Shari

        Thanks Pamela. My blog is gracefounddaily.blogspot.com. It’s really a way to express my feelings and observations as well as a kind of memoir for my family. I really do love writing it. In fact today’s post actually comes from a comment I made on your 31 Day series where I experimented with scribbling. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Great post Pamela!

    Negative people and negativity will always be around. It could serve to either help us reassess or break us.I grew up to view criticism as a tool to become better. Not as criticism against me. I have also learned to do the best I can in life’s every aspect, so I trust my self.

    A nice word for sure is satisfying, but a chance to look at something from a different perspective can be useful. It will not hurt if we don’t let it. When reviewing self published authors, we should not compare their writing and ideas with those authors that made the best list of all ages. Besides, many of them were not recognized by their piers either. One should write a review to share the good parts, perhaps disagree with a point or two, but also to encourage other readers to buy the book.

    Always, someone will take his role too seriously; someone who is negative generally, jealous, hateful, or fanatic about some dogma or idea–even vocabulary and grammar strictness. Such people will always find something negative to say. Engaging in a conversation with them could be a good thing, but we should not expect the satisfaction of polite engagement. Then, the only thing is not to let anger take over. Better to ignore than bring in more negative energy.

    Have a blessed Sunday,


  • Pamela, it was an excellent post. I recently read a transcript of a post by Michael Hyatt. It was really good and on the same subject. Here is the link.


    • Hello Anne,
      Thank you for sharing the link to Michael Hyatt’s article. He has good points on when it is wise to listen to criticism. We never want to be the fool in the Bible who can not take instruction.

  • Dave Kwiecinski

    Beautiful, Pamela. So true. Life is too short for negativity, the negativity that others lob our way and the negativity that exists in our feeble brains. Your words are powerful.

    • Hello Dave,
      Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, life is too short for negativity. Today may our feeble brains be kind to us.

  • Pat Meyers

    A breath of much-needed fresh air from IPaintIWrite.com. Thanks.

    • Good Morning Pat,
      I hope you have a wonderful day, full of fresh air and sunshine. And, you are very welcome.

  • Great post, Pamela! We were discussing bad reviews a couple of weeks ago in the Fiction Group. One person had received a rather scathing review which left her with feelings of doubt. Thanks for this.

    • Hello Joan,
      Thank you for sharing this story today. I hope it will encourage your friend who got a negative review.

  • Lee Ann Spillane

    Thank you, Pamela,
    This was just what I needed. The haters and the critics, the liars and the meanies–some days their voices are loud, loud. Thank you for quieting them and pushing back the crowd.

    Lee Ann

    • Hello Lee Ann,
      I am glad this article helped you push back the liars and the meanies.
      I hope you have a wonderful day creating. Creating like you.

  • beckymusician

    I love this post. I have given in to those negative comments and reviews in the past, but I’m now trying to listen to my inner voice giving me feedback. This means that sometimes I have to throw other people’s comments in the garbage without reading them.

    • Hello Becky,
      What a great idea to throw other people’s comments in the garbage. As an artist we really need to listen to our inner voices.
      Wishing all my best,

  • margaret simon

    I recently read a list of “You are a writer if…” and one of the things on the list was self-doubt. We all have it. It’s part of the territory. You are brave. Calm down and believe in yourself.

    • Hello Margaret,
      Oh, I love what you said.
      “Calm down and believe in yourself.”
      This is brilliant. Perhaps I will write it on my arm in magic marker instead of the saying by Pressfield.

      • margaret simon

        That was the quote on our school t-shirts for testing. I love it too.

  • I’m an advocacy blogger/social media content curator (for community and contingent faculty information networks) with three litter boxes (not counting planters) ~ that means comments. In my space I set the rules (decide what I am willing to make space for), fair ones, calling for civility and supporting claims. So that’s a variant on don’t listen to lies even if posters try to guilt trip me into it — I tell them to get a page of their own and stop being free riders

    • Hello VCVaile,
      What a good idea. In your space you set the rules.
      I have deleted comments on my blog before, and blocked a few people who were mean to my friends who had made comments.
      My book is about believing in your ability to draw, filled with my drawings. I know someone will probably say, “Well, you can’t draw. Your teacher was right.”
      And, I will ignore the comment. And keep drawing.
      I hate the thought of avoiding a life because of something someone might or might not say.

  • Elsie

    Pamela, you have to be true to your own self. When you put forth your best work, you have to be proud.

    • Hello Elsie,
      Did you know you are the first person to subscribe to my blog? The second one was my husband.
      Your encouragement when I first started to blog really made a difference. Thank you.
      Yes, I have to be true to my own self. Thank you again for encouraging me.

  • writekimwrite

    Yes we can give ourselves away to the wrong things, can’t we! I think the voice to silence, maybe even more, is that inner critic! If that one quiets down it will be easier to become tone deaf to the others. When I fill my mind with who God says I am it is easier. It is a process!

    • Oh Kim, you are so right.
      If our minds are filled with what God thinks of us, we don’t even hear the negative voice of haters. I totally agree, the inner critic is way more dangerous than one negative review. We can choose not to read reviews, but our brain is always in our heads.
      It is time to focus on what is true.
      So nice to hear from you.

  • fran

    I love the “multimedia” approach of your piece. It adds to your message.
    You sound like a dedicated and productive artist. You are inspiring us.

    • Hello fran,
      Thank you for your kind words. I try to be productive, but often I avoid I forget to make time for myself. But, who really needs to have a perfectly clean house every day of the week.
      Think of all the time wasted sweeping up every cat hair?

  • Nanc

    love the quotes and the interview by Pooh Hodges! I do listen to that voice first too…that is why I don’t love to even read evaluations after professional dev…..it doesn’t help xo nanc

    • Hello Nanc,
      Did you know I started to sign my name xo Pamela, because I love how you always signed your name, xo Nanc?
      I hope all is well in your world, and that your wrist is feeling better. Perhaps we shouldn’t listen to the negative voice at all.
      Here is to ignoring the negative voice.

  • Adrienne

    Great, great, great and difficult advice. I love how you jump around to tell us with different media – maybe ONE will stick! 🙂

    • Hello Adrienne,
      Thank you for visiting. Yes, maybe one will stick. Now to actually finish the book. 🙂