The culture of anonymous feedback made possible by the internet gives everybody the power to be a critic. It also gives everybody the potential to be a creator. Yet, in virtually every artistic medium there are more critics than creators. More people comment on articles than write them. The same holds for podcasts, books, music, and movies.
You can make something or criticize the people who do.
Creators become the authors of their stories. Critics whine about their circumstances.
Creators shape reality. Critics resign themselves to it.
Creators make something and get back to work. Critics find someone else to troll.
As Steven Pressfield says, "The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had the guts. "
Creators create. Critics Consume.
Creators do the work for an audience of one, knowing that it may or may not reach an audience of millions. Critics survive on validation.
Creators realize that critics are nothing more than a sign that their work is reaching more and more people. Every best-seller has one-star reviews. Every Oscar-winning movie has someone who hated it.
Creators know the opinions of their audience are subjective and that doing their work in search of validation is artistic suicide.
The difference between critics and creators is similar to the difference between professionals and amateurs.
Creators are the linchpins of the connection economy. They are the ones we'd miss if they were gone. They are the ones who add to the quality of our lives. I've never heard anyone say "I had a great day today because of some asshole on the internet I've never met wrote me a 2-star review or left me a comment telling me he hated my blog post.
It's easier to be a critic because you don't have to put anything on the line. You don't have to risk rejection, criticism, and doubt. But, in almost every case, it's better to be a creator. It's better to be the person who writes the book than the one who reads it. It's better to be the person who produces a TV show than the one who watches it. It's better to be the person who records an album than the one who listens to it.
Sure, getting in the arena means you're going to take a few blows, and occasionally get punched in the face. But, the arena is where the magic happens. Critics are spectators. Creators are engaged participants.
You can engage with the idiot who sends you a vicious email, the asshole who writes you a terrible review, or you can get back to work and make something for the person who appreciates you.
The path of least resistance is to be a critic. But the path of most reward is to be a creator.
If you want to have a thriving creative career, create more and criticize less.