How to Write: Accepting Feedback
So, for the second post on “giving your writing to the outside world“, we’re looking at how to take feedback.
Feedback is one of the most important parts of writing, and one of the hardest things to find and to accept.
Your work is personal; it’s your talent, your soul, that goes into something…and then to hand it over to someone else and ask them to point out the flaws? Eeek!
But you can’t write in a vacuum; you need other points of view. Your work is better for having outside opinions, and your writing will improve. If nothing else, you need readers – your work is going to be read at some point! It’s better to have the comments while you’re still able to change things than after it’s been published and you see the comments on Amazon…
So, some things to remember when you’re looking through feedback:
Not every reader is right for you and your work
Some people don’t like a certain genre or style; some people simply don’t give the kind of feedback you need; and some people unfortunately see “critique” as “criticism”, and therefore tend to be very negative. It’s ok to pick and choose who reads your work.
Be specific about what you want
If you only want to know about the plot, let your reader know. If you’re planning on re-writing huge sections, say. If you consider the writing finished and just want a proofread, tell them. You’ll get more out of it, and you’ll avoid frustrating your reader when they’re reading something you’ve already planning on changing, or definitely don’t want to change.
They are not attacking you!
They are trying to improve your work. Critique is a learning experience, and is aiming to tell you both what you’re doing well and what you can build on to make better.
Don’t just flip through to the criticism – look at the praise with the same seriousness that you’re going to look at the problems. You’ve done things well! Take a moment to reflect, and see it as something to work on – except in this case, you need to keep doing it.
Consider what’s been said, and the reasons that the reader has said it
Your natural inclination is usually to disagree, particularly when someone’s attacking your work, but everything that’s commented on is commented for a reason. Consider what they’ve said, why it’s been raised, and if they potentially have a point. If you still don’t agree, that’s fine, but at least have a reason for disagreeing – even if it is just “I like it this way!” Getting several points of view can help with this; if several people have raised the same problem, maybe it’s something you do need to consider.
Remember that it takes time to read
Thank your reader; even if you disagree with all of their comments and think they’re an idiot, they’ve still put a lot of time and effort in for you. You don’t necessarily have to pay them, but don’t take advantage of someone’s generosity – and don’t send them continuous re-writes! You’ll also often find that they respond well to cake…just sayin’.
Feedback can be incredibly valuable, and is well worth getting. However, it can be agonising. Remember that the final word is yours, and that all feedback is only a suggestion – but that it is something to help you get better!
Green Sky & Sparks