When your work is under attack

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I publish erotic fiction under half a dozen pennames, so it seems normal that I have to deal with a bit of unfair criticism every now and then. While I'm pretty confident in my writing skills and generally not an easy victim to prey on, I don't even want to imagine how many talented new writers were scared away from doing what they love by some random idiot on the web. In this article, I want to show you how to stay cool when someone takes a huge unjustified dump on one of your texts.

What are trolls?

Trolls are magical, nearly invulnerable creatures, which can live hundreds of years and lift up to four times their body weight. Internet trolls, on the other hand, are mostly just random assholes without any real skills that get a kick out of ruining someone's day.

These trolls can be classified as sadistic beings that enjoy sucking all the fun and energy out of their prey. They’re not interested in giving any helpful review, they’re spreading misinformation on purpose, and they certainly cannot be reasoned with.

An attack can happen anywhere. It might start out as a seemingly innocent message on Facebook or as aggressive as an insulting comment on your Blog.

Luckily, here on Belle we get to enjoy a pretty tight troll control system, but out in the wild, anyone of us can become a target.

Why we are vulnerable?

You might be surprised that even experienced writers can fall victim to troll attacks, because they hit us where it really, really hurts.

Our texts are our babies after all. We spend a lot of time writing them and caring for them, we put our hopes and love into them and sometimes we even carry them within us for a couple of months, before we finally get them on paper.

Even if someone has legitimate and constructive criticism on your texts, it can sometimes be hard not to enter a defensive stance right away. So when a troll comes along to intentionally insult your work without any valid reason, it’s no surprise it can feel like someone is punching your child in the face.

It is important, that we never ever walk into a trolls trap and play right into their hands by rushing into a fight with them. Our only weapon is to get as emotionally distanced as humanly possible.

Types of Attacks

To demonstrate you how diverse such attacks can be, here are three common examples of typical troll comments:

"Just quit, you have no talent"

Luckily, no one ever said that to me. Long ago, I was a beginner too, and not as confident as I am today. Sadly I have seen comments like this all over the internet. This is simply never true and even if you had no talent, that’s no valid reason to stop doing what you love. Whoever uses phrases like this, especially against beginners, deserves absolutely no respect, no matter how talented they are themselves.

"Are you for real?! How can you write something like that?!"

You may be dealing with a fundamentalist here. I'm not a fan of the "don't like - don’t read" attitude, but some people really seem to deliberately search for publications they aggressively disagree with. Maybe their moral values are incompatible with yours, maybe they’re still stuck in a past century or maybe they don't have even have any real opinion at all, and just want to piss you off. Whatever the case, don't try to convince a fundamentalist. As long as your work is in accordance with the law and the rules of your publishing platforms, you don't really need to convince them anyway.

"[Insert your genre] is not art."

What you do is art, period. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s always a "classic" writer guy who thinks lowly of fantasy and science-fiction novelists. There are bigots who consider even the smartest erotic story as nothing but porn. And some people will try to convince you that writing fanfiction is nothing but a waste of time. They’re completely wrong. That’s all there is to say about that.

How to deal with Trolls

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

Joshua WarGames (1983)

Don't feed the Troll

Yeah, I know this sounds a little cliché, but it’s true. Trolls do what they do, because they are getting joy out of making you mad. Stay calm and tell yourself: "Okay, a troll just picked me as a victim. He will try everything he can come up with to lure me out of defense, but since I am a smart person and have read Meg's article, he clearly made the wrong choice."

Think of your audience

Try not to care what the troll thinks about you. You won’t change their opinion and that’s a hard fact.

Your audience’s opinion of you, however, will change, if you lower yourself to the attacker’s standards.

If you really feel the need to react, you can calmly but firmly disagree with the troll, but one message should do it - don’t start a debate.

Your fans will appreciate your professional approach.

Call the Sheriff

You cannot fight a troll in a discussion – this is exactly what they want. Arguing with them is like dueling a werewolf who wears a bulletproof west.

On most platforms however, the law will be on your side. So instead of waging a hopeless battle on your own, simply ask your local mod or admin to snipe them down with a well placed silver bullet.

If the attack happens on your own blog then that’s even better – you’re the Sheriff yourself. All it takes is a smile and one press of the ban-button.

Don't fall for their tricks

Especially when you’re using a penname, trolls may say insulting things like: "You're never [insert your age]. I think you’re just some teenager brat who wants attention!"

While there is nothing inherently wrong with being a teenager, accusations like this really hurt. Why? Because it’s incredibly really rude if somebody tells you flat out: "I don't believe you! You're lying."

I know, you’re upset, but please resist the urge to prove them wrong by mailing them a copy of your driving license.

In situations like this, I like to reply with:
"To be honest, I don’t really care about what you think." Garnish it with a cute smiley if you want, and ignore every further response."

After the Attack

After having to deal with a troll, you'll still be feeling very depressed and/or angry. You may have successfully handled the attack, but you're still reeling on the inside, constantly doubting yourself. It can happen to the best. Even happens to me, and I'm pretty hard-boiled.

It’s very important that you get up and shake it off as soon as possible, because feelings like that can linger with you for days or even weeks. They can have a severe impact on your productivity and even the quality of your texts.

Here is some advice on how to apply some emotional first aid, restore your good vibes and get that creative juices flowing again.

There are people who love what you do

Always remember this: As long as even a single person loves your work, you should never stop, no matter how much someone else disagrees.

Get support from your community

If you have a writing community, you might want to tell them about what just happened. You'll instantly feel better if you talk about it in a safe environment, and you're bound to get plenty of emotional support. If you currently do not have a writing community, I'd say it's about time you got one.

*cough* Join Belletristica *cough*

Never change your writings out of fear

Now don't get me wrong: You should always be grateful for harsh but genuine criticism, and appreciate your audience's feedback, but don't you ever dare adjusting your writing style, just because someone attacked you in an unfair manner and you're afraid it might happen again. I know, experiences like that can be haunting, but try to imagine how disappointed I would be, if I found out that you let yourself be bullied into writing your next chapter in a way you did not want to.

Have a short break – walk it off

Putting on some happy tunes, playing your favorite videogame or taking a walk outside can really help you to feel better. For me, a random episode of Adventure Time is a surefire way to get my mood back up where it belongs.

Enjoy a compliment

Wanna see something that’s really great? If yes, then go take a look in the mirror. Because you, dear sir or madam, are an interesting person and what you do really matters.

You're writer. An artist. A wizard who magically creates something out of nothing. Now open up your text editor and do what you do best, I believe in you.

No really, I believe in you. And you can quote me on that.

I believe in you.

Megan S. Core
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Feeling better already?
Compliments - they get you every time ;)


I hope this article was helpful to you. Have you ever been attacked by a troll? How did you react? Share your experiences in the comment section below!

About the author

Author Portrait
No one really knows what Megan does for a living, but she has a whole lot of pennames and people here love her stuff. Check out her profile.

Comments

  • Author Portrait

    I keep going back to this article and enjoy it greatly. Many thanks. Had to deal with this one a group of trolls (yes a group of trolls) taking a huge unjustified dumping on romance fiction Then turns around and says I can't take criticism.

  • Author Portrait

    Toller Artikel^^

  • Author Portrait

    Hallo Megan, danke für die Tipps! Hast du auch welche für real life experiences? Die hatte ich nämlich schon des Öfteren. Da fällt dann genau dieser Satz: "Was stimmt mit dir nicht? Du bist doch zu doof zum Schuhe binden." oder Ähnliches. Früher wurde ich von sowas total verschreckt und hab mich regelrecht unterbuttern lassen. Mittlerweile ignoriere ich solche Kommentare einfach und unterhalte mich dann mit anderen Anwesenden normal weiter. Das verwirrt den Troll meistens so sehr, dass er nur angepisst das Weite sucht. Zumindest hatte ich bisher das Glück noch auf keinen aggressiven Troll zu stoßen, der mich dann angegriffen hätte.

  • Author Portrait

    Sorry for the English post, trying to learn German. In any case, I remember on this one discord chat, while most people there are pretty cool, there was this one lady that took issue to the fact that I wrote an erotic fan-fiction. This was in spite of the fact that the book continued to get reads on Wattpad (and even still does). To be absolutely fair though, her webcomic is pretty good. It's just not the kind of romance I tend to write. (I treat romance like a seasoning rather than a genre.)

  • Author Portrait

    Hi! Guter Text. Ich hatte das Problem zum Glück noch nie, aber finde solche Leute echt Feige. LG Hikari D Tenshi

  • Author Portrait

    Ein echt guter Artikel, der den Nagel absolut auf den Kopf trifft. Wo ist hier nur der Applausbutton? :) Ich kann die Gegenmaßnahmen nur unterschreiben aus persönlicher Erfahrung. Don't feed the trolls :D Liebe Grüße, John Cross

  • Author Portrait

    Es ist erschreckend, dass ich offensichtlich selbst einmal ein Internettroll war, der Leute moralapostelt hat O.O Ich denke, inzwischen bin ich davon geheilt ^^ Also zumindest ein bisschen. Ich bin halt anspruchsvoll XD Ich vermeide es inzwischen, Kommentare zu machen, die nach der geistigen Gesundheit des Autors fragen, gerade weil ich weiß, wie verletzend das sein kann und wie hilflos man sich dann fühlt - auch wenn meine Texte noch nie Opfer eines Trolls wurden, ich selbst wurde es schon und das ist beschissen. Besonders weil dieser Troll sich erdreistete, etwas über meinen Charakter sagen zu wollen nur aufgrund des Lesens der Inhaltsangabe eines bestimmten Textes (Ihr kennt bestimmt fast alle „Du kannst nicht schreiben“. Wer keinen Humor hat, sollte das nicht lesen ^^). Ich lass die Leute machen und denke mir meinen Teil, denn gerade auf Wattpad, wo ich vieles gesehen habe, was sich zu trollen lohnen würde, ist der Großteil der User weit unter 18 und die provozieren gern mit bestimmten Themen. Heute versuche ich eher, einer von denen zu sein, die zwar harte, aber gerechtfertigte Kritik geben, die den jungen Autor auch weiterbringen kann. Wir teilen immerhin alle die gleiche Leidenschaft und sollten einander nicht zerfleischen :)

  • Author Portrait

    Das ist mir sogar erst gestern passiert. Es war zwar mehr eine Mischung aus Troll und Moralapostel, aber wehgetan hat es trotzdem. Die Person hat nicht einfach meinen Text kritisiert - das wäre für mich kein Problem gewesen, weil ich den Text im Nachhinein selbst etwas provokativ fand -, sondern gleich meine Persönlichkeit dazu, obwohl sie mich nicht kannte und ich sie ebenso wenig. Sie hat mit Vorurteilen um sich geschmissen und meinen Text ausgelegt, wie sie es gerade brauchte. Da haben dann ihre 'Follower' gleich mitreagiert und sind ebenfalls auf mich losgegangen. Das war nicht hier auf Belle (hier bin ich erst seit heute), aber es war öffentlich im Internet und grenzte fast schon an Cybermobbing, weil diese Person mir Intelligenz, Empathie und meine eigenen Interessen abgesprochen hat.

  • Author Portrait

    Ein wirklich genialer Artikel. Es berührt mich, wie nett hier alle sind, zusammenhalten und einander unterstützen. Die Tipps sind wundervoll. PS: Wenn jemand gute Laune, Motivation braucht oder einfach was los werden will, kann mich anschreiben. : ) Ich habe genug davon zu verschenken. :D

  • Author Portrait

    Super Artikel! Ich hab vor einiger Zeit mal Bekanntschaft mit einer Art Troll gemacht. Da ging es um eine meine Alltagsanekdoten auf dem Blog. Kommentiert hat diejenige aber im social web. Sie kritisierte meine Erziehung auf nicht eben freundliche Art und Weise. Das Augenzwinkern in meinem Blogpost hat sie völlig übersehen. Ich muss aber sagen, dass ihre Aktion mir sehr viele Aufrufe beschert hat. Wenn ihr euch also gerade wieder über einen Troll ärgert, dann denkt daran, dass auch negative Aufmerksamkeit nicht schlecht sein muss.

  • Author Portrait

    Danke für diese hilfreichen Tipps! Ich habe - ausserhalb von "Belle" - nicht gerade Trolle, wie du sie beschreibst, erlebt, aber teilweise ernüchterne Reaktionen im Stil von: Schweigen... (Wenn ich z.B. einen Text vorgelesen habe, was ich so schnell nicht mehr tun werde...). Oder keine Antwort auf verlangte Texte erhalten... Das verunsichert sehr... Hier fühle ich mich wohl und fasse Mut... Herzlichen Dank für deinen Text und für Belle! :-)

  • Author Portrait

    Klasse Artikel den ich nur in seiner Aussage unterschreiben kann. Ich bin selbst am Anfang von mehreren Leuten getrollt wurden und habe mich wie du es hier empfiehlst damals verhalten. Und da ich immer noch und immer mehr schreibe, sollte klar sein, dass es was gebracht hat. Toller Artikel Meg. :))))

  • Author Portrait

    Schöner Artikel. Nette und gutplaztierte, sehr bildiche Beispiele und vergleiche. Tolle und aussagekräftige Zitate. Was wünscht man sich mehr. Super Text, die pure Motivation.

  • Author Portrait

    Brilliant article. :) I've had some trolls criticize my writing, even a comment I posted on a blog - the guy obviously thought English was my first language ;). Once someone told me 'some people can write humor, but you can't so you shouldn't try'. That was funny because even a rather grumpy man who had read one of my humorous stories actually found it funny and if he could do that, anyone could. :) Once someone really tore a fanfic of mine to shreds, because I'd used the wrong 'fact' site about the fandom. Some of the spellings were wrong. She was right though, and I found a better fact site to correct my spelling of the alien names. As you say, it really hurts to have your writing massacred like that. I've even once had a review that claimed my published book didn't make sense. I thought it did, but I suppose people have different opinions about what makes sense.

  • Author Portrait

    Schöner Artikel. Don't feed the troll ist ein Slogan, den ich als Moderator schon so oft geschrieben habe... Aber das Joshua Zitat ist auch eine schöne Art, das auszudrücken. Jetzt habe ist Lust, den Film zum xten Mal zu sehen...

  • Author Portrait

    Sehr toll geschrieben und auch gut das es so etwas gibt! Ich hoffe allerdings, dass ich diesehr Tipps nicht allzu schnell brauche

  • Author Portrait

    Super Artikel, Meg und vielen Dank für die gute Vorbereitung auf eventuelle Trollangriffe :)

  • Author Portrait

    Ein toller Text! Ich hatte bisher zum Glück noch mit keinem solchen Troll zu tun, aber es ist immer gut dafür gerüstet zu sein! Danke für die tollen Anregungen Meg! :-)

  • Author Portrait

    ganz deiner meinung! also wenn ich getrollt werde, antworte ich nie und liebe es dann, mir vorzustellen, wie mein troll ungeduldig immer wieder vergeblich die seite aktualisiert, um nachzusehen, ob ich geantwortet habe hihihi :)

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