We and the critics

I am convinced that most of you also feel hurt when someone criticizes your work. Don’t take critics too seriously. They don’t have the power to make (or to avoid) someone buying a book, a CD, or to go to an exhibition. Don’t give them the importance they don’t have. They are trying to make a living, and that’s all.

If I did not manage to convince you, please read the comments below:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. ~ Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her. ~ David Brinkley

A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world. ~ Edmond and Jules De Goncourt

To escape criticism — do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard

It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper. ~ Errol Flynn

If criticism had any power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now. ~ Fred Allen

Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with, the wind. ~ Hamilton Mabie

Before you criticize people, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away. And you have their shoes. ~ JK Lambert

A negative judgment gives you more satisfaction than praise, provided it smacks of jealousy. ~ Jean Baudrillard

I have always been very fond of them (drama critics) . . . I think it is so frightfully clever of them to go night after night to the theatre and know so little about it. ~ Noel Coward

Sticks and stones are hard on bones, aimed with angry art,
Words can sting like anything but silence breaks the heart.
~ Phyllis McGinley

A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still. ~ Samuel Johnson

If any human being earnestly desire to push on to new discoveries instead of just retaining and using the old; to win victories over Nature as a worker rather than over hostile critics as a disputant; to attain , in fact, clear and demonstrative knowlegde instead of attractive and probable theory; we invite him as a true son of Science to join our ranks. ~Sir Francis Bacon

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves. ~ Brendan Francis Behan

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  1. Jane Stewart (Dances With Crayons) says:

    Recently watched Curly Top, an old Shirley Temple movie. Loved this part best of all!
    Shirley: “My Chicken can do a special trick!
    Critic: “And what is that?”
    Shirley: She can lay an egg!
    Critic: “And what’s so special about THAT?!”
    Shirley: ‘Well, can YOU lay an egg?’


  2. Andre says:

    He leido la mayorí­a de los liblros de Coelho, a mi parecer todas sus historias tienen un mensaje similar, la busqueda del amor, solo que en cada uno de ellos nos muestra como hacer esa busqueda de diferente manera en en distintas circunstancias, a mi me agradan mucho sus obras y no es q sea filosofia barata, simplemente el autor refleja la verdad del hombre a traves de sus frases.

  3. Lane says:

    Loved the inane comments from the critic who was criticising your comments on critics generally! Har har har har har!

    I guess I’m being critical of this one’s comments and that makes me an authority as I am now a critic?

    The quotes on criticism were hilarious… especially the one about jealousy. My motto is: I’f I’m not feeling the love than I just let it go.

    As an emerging artist I look at others who criticise and think about their lives. Most of them aren’t successful or well-known but have been painting for many, many years. Should I follow their example? Should I leave my hopes and dreams at their disposal?

    Thank you for a beautiful perspective. *smile*

    I haven’t actually read any of your books but my friend highly recommends them and as he is very intelligent, insightful, thoughtful, successful and funny, I think that recommendation says it all.

  4. Dear paulo coelho,

    i want to say that the alchemist changed my life and i think you are one of the best writers i have ever come across
    please i hope you will continue on your journey do not be diswayed by criticisms .like you said if criticisms had any power the skunk would be extinct by now.

    Remain blessed

  5. Teodor Georgiev says:

    Mr. Coelho,

    I would like to comment a part of your claims:

    Why am I writing this? Because I am convinced that most of you also feel hurt when someone criticizes your work. As I said before, don’t take critics too seriously. They don’t have the power to make (or to avoid) someone buying a book, a CD, or to go to an exhibition. Don’t give them the importance they don’t have. They are trying to make a living, and that’s all.

    Looks like you hate the critics, which means – you ignore any
    different opinion than yours. From your words I can conclude that
    if you were a governor, you would behave like nothing else, but a dictator (or a little bit softer – ruling via an authoritative regime). So to say – any other opinion than yours is to be ignored.
    If you were a governor, trust me – I wouldn’t like to be one of your citizens, and if I was – I would find a way to escape.

    A confirmation of my thesis is the quotations you posted in your “defense”. How comes you chose only these that speak in your support?
    You know, quoting proverbs should not be like a “swedish table” – taking only the snacks you enjoy.

    Allow me to enlight you that the criticism sometimes (and often) is very useful (especially in team work, but that, the teamwork, is
    a job, whose sweetness you might never enjoy in your life).
    By criticizing products and services we contribute to their improvement.
    That is why many companies endorse the customers to send their feedback – these companies are eager to improve. Are you willing to improve or your feel yourself pretty perfect, Mr. Cuelho?

    1. Krista Schwimmer says:

      Mr. Georgiev,

      I believe that a fair critique of a work can be productive; but, often, critics merely attack works. For instance, I read a critique of “The Alchemist” recently that really did nothing to offer any improvements. It merely put the work down because of its “simple vocabulary.” Well, I have read other great authors with a simple style. (Bukowski, C.S. Lewis) Also, I do not understand how a writer and a governor serve the same function in life. So why compare the two?

      As for products improving with criticism, that is not always the case. It really depends on the criticism. Is it done to help improve or to eliminate the competition? Look at the Apple commercials. From my viewpoint, all these commercials do is put down the PC. I really like my PC and do not have problems with it. I truly find the commercial distasteful.

      Anyway, a few of my thoughts. Just for the record: I love reading Mr. Coelho’s books. I believe they are wonderful the way there are. The mystery of why a book is great is that one cannot break it down to find out the “perfect” structure or style. I find it works on an organic level. Part of the mystery of art.

  6. Marie-Christine says:

    oops! I forgot many thanks .I am very grateful. Love

  7. Marie-Christine says:

    Objet : la critique qui nous fait grandir
    Est-ce que vous pouvez me donner des conseils sur ce sujet? Ca m’aiderait beaucoup.Peut-etre via un courriel ou autre.
    Je promets de ne pas raler.

  8. Marie-Christine says:

    There is a beautiful story about that on:
    La critique qui nous fait grandir

  9. lil_girl says:

    This one i got from Zig Ziglar:

    Son’t be distracted by criticisms. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bit out of you.