Real writers do recognize real criticism.
Emerging authors: Someone saying your story is great rather than garbage is more preferable, yes?
For about ten minutes, it is. After that, you’re pretty much left with the same lingering question: “How come?”
Truly worthy criticism doesn’t leave that poser unanswered: in an ideal writing world, an author’s ear would only ever be attuned to constructive feedback; the hater guff and airhead fluff would be as comprehensible as Charlie Brown’s teacher. Alas, this is not Utopia – attempts to kick a literary goal often get foiled by a swift-handed Lucy – so it falls on the writer to identify useful opinions of his/her work. Easier said than done when it’s your heart and soul laid bare on the page.
Remember this tip if it helps: the only criticisms worth listening to and acting upon are positive, honest and, above all else, predictable. You should see them coming. If a reader tells you your car chase scene connected because it felt real, like they were right there in the back seat, you should already know. If another reader suggests your hot and steamy love triangle came across a bit too square, you should already know that, too. Maybe it seemed okay when you wrote it, maybe you’d convinced yourself it was fine…But you knew.
Self-awareness is your best critic. That’s all there is to know.