The importance of feedback–and how you take it

 

Writing has been called a solitary pursuit, and while this is mostly true, every writer needs a support system of critique and feedback.  Moms are usually great at support, but not so much on objective comments.  This is where a writing group comes in.  Not only do you get objective feedback (as objective as anyone can be, because let’s face it, writing and reading is a subjective business), but you also get a variety of perspectives.  Everyone interprets things differently based on their schema, the filter with which they see the world that is formed by their background and experiences.  It’s good to know beforehand how a reader might interpret something.  Then you as the writer can decide if you are comfortable with that interpretation, or if something needs to be changed to avoid misconceptions.

 

It’s also great to get input from people who’ve had different experiences.  As writers, we write what we know, but let’s face it, sometimes we have to use our imagination and a little research to go outside our realm of expertise.  We want the details right, don’t we?  I gave a character bruised ribs, and a person in my writer’s group said, “Hey, I’ve had bruised ribs.  Here’s what it’s really like…”

Not all feedback is created equal.  As the writer, you have to take it or leave it, though you should always listen to it first.  We use the word “objective” to describe the ideal kind of critique, but there really is no such thing.  Each reader, however well-read or accomplished in writing, still has their own tastes in what they like to see.  Sometimes a writer and reader click like brain twins.  Sometimes some serious deliberation is needed.  Sometimes we feel like the feedback is coming out of the blue and misses the mark.  That’s okay.  It’s all part of the process.

 

It’s also important for a writer to know his or her tendencies when accepting feedback.  Critique should be a discussion, not be perceived as a personal attack.  It might even help to figure out how you best receive it.  Maybe you need a sandwich delivery: positive/needs improvement/positive.    Maybe you’d like alternative suggestions, or just have something pointed out and you figure it out later yourself.

Yeah, the writing itself is a solitary activity, but writers themselves are not alone.  There’s a huge community out there waiting to embrace each other.  If you don’t already know about the #MyWANA hastag on Twitter, go to Kristen Lamb’s blog and read about it.  http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/join-the-love-revolution-mywana/  #MyWANA means We Are Not Alone (writers).

Happy writing and critiquing,

~Dreaming wide awake

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4 comments on “The importance of feedback–and how you take it

  1. Author Kristen Lamb says:

    Thanks for the shout-out. another thing to consider is the skill level of any writing group. Preferably find writing groups where some members are at least make a living writing or are agented. Granted, all members can give feedback, but some of the advice can be flat out wrong and can trap a writer in meaningless activity. This is why it is also critical that we writers be avid readers and also devour every craft book we can find.

    Twitter is an excellent resource to get information from people who know what they are talking about, and who have a proven CV in the industry.

    Great blog. Looking forward to more :D. See you on #MyWANA.

    • Thanks for adding that point. If a writer is serious about getting his/her work out there, it’s better to be in a group of like-minded people. The writer’s group who views it more as a hobby isn’t going to cut it. A more experienced group also has more to offer in the post-writing process. I didn’t know anything about e-book publishing until another writer who did it told me. It’s great to also get advice about all the stuff that comes after the manuscript is finished.

    • I should mention that I was too afraid to join Twitter at first. But then I stumbled upon your blog, Kristen, and #MyWANA. And I thought, okay, if I have somewhere to start, maybe it won’t be so bad. So thanks for that. =)

  2. Hey, Angela! It was a pleassure to meet you in #mywana. I couldn’t agree with your point about the importance of feedback more. That’s why I love #mywana – we’re all writers, we’re all in this together, we all support each other, we all help each other with our blog posts (well, not me because I post about TV, books, and movies!), and we have great conversations on twitter!

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog & leaving a comment!

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