Submitting your work for feedback is like putting your heart in someone’s teeth. If you’re lucky, they’ll hold it gently in their hands. If you’re not so lucky, they’ll bite down and make it bleed. But if you’re REALLY lucky, they’ll take the time and effort to help your work be the best it can be, even if it means tough love. And there’s a reason why they call it tough – it ain’t easy to take.
But before we chat tonight about receiving feedback, I’d like a word about GIVING it. I admit, I didn’t know how to give it at first. I was one of THOSE people who coated others’ work with so many comments, it looked like a sea of red by the time I was done. I was brutal. And I definitely owe some people formal apologies for the feelings I hurt. I was new, and I didn’t understand what good feedback meant.
Here’s my understanding now of what good feedback means, or at least the kind I like to get:
Good feedback does not mean taking the person’s work and nitpicking it until you’re trying to make it your own. That’s not feedback, it’s rewriting, and it’s rude. (See the guilty sign on my back…)
Good feedback also does not mean sugar coating – telling someone glowingly how wonderful their work is without any critique. That is shallow and superficial and unhelpful. (I’ve done that too, out of laziness.)
Good feedback, great feedback, falls in the middle. It means taking the time and care to highlight in detail the strengths of a writer’s work. Because let’s face it, most of us don’t know what our strengths are, and it’s important that we know what we do well.
It also means giving the attention to make constructive, deliberate critiques. To look carefully at a writer’s work and find the potential that has yet to be realized. Great feedback is given with respect and wanting to bring the work to a higher level. It’s given with a belief in the other writer’s ability and the integrity of their story. It’s investing the time and effort to uplift the work, not degrade it.
Great feedback is a giant compliment of YOUR WORK IS WORTH MY TIME. Accept it with grace, consideration, and discernment. Having the dedication to take every piece of it seriously is a hallmark of a great writer.
Given compassionately and well, great feedback is the foundation of building the great relationships we have going in this wonderful community of ours.
Looking forward to hearing your insights on receiving feedback!
See you at 7pm EST on #RWChat.