I like to think I create good comedy on a consistent basis. But sometimes I write a stinker, something so dreadful that I cringe whenever I think about it. One example is an article I wrote for another website where I criticized photos in a ranting, raving style. Commentors hated it. It's feedback I won't forget any time soon.
Confronting the impact of your work is something all cretive minds have to deal with. This is especially true in comedy. A badly framed joke gets you blank expressions if you're lucky...or gets you cussed out nine ways to Sunday. Standup comedians have to face a tougher heat, since they deal with a live audience, but even writers can feel the burn when their work tanks, and it can be difficult to move past that and get back into the groove.
Here are some things to keep in mind to help you cope with a bad reception:
1. Seperate yourself from your work.
It's very easy to invest your identity into a work and use a good reception to fuel your ego. Of course, this becomes harmful to your self-worth when you inevitably tank. Pull back. Don't concern yourself with the outcome. Instead, make your goal to improve your work through any kind of feedback. It'll keep you humble, dedicated to the craft, and most importantly, sane.
2. Get yourself laughing again.
If you're stuck in a funk, load up your favorite funny videos or comedians and get to laughing. This serves two purposes. Most important one is to get out of that funk and put your brain towards doing better. The other is to give you a little subconcious help - by refreshing your mind on what makes good humor, you're more likely to pull it off next time.
3. Look towards a brighter future.
Just because you've tanked once doesn't mean you will again. Writing terrible material is part of the process anyway - you just published it when you thought it was finished. It happens to all of us. Still, I believe a good idea with a poor execution is worth revisiting. And even if you don't feel like rewriting, you're not doomed to write poorly forever. Pick yourself up and try again - pressing on will always solve the problems of the human race, as the quote goes.
That's it for this year, folks. Thanks for sticking with me for this long - stay frosty and I'll see you in 2011!
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