Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How NOT to Fall*

*...off the cliff, while hanging on by the fingernails

This blog post appeared a few months back, but I find it one to bookmark and return to.





The gist of it is that feedback on one’s work, while essential and helpful, is not to be treated as sacred and infallible.  I would say it even more strongly: it is, like we all are, biased and fallible.


What is left for creatives is to discern what helps them, and what is unhelpful or worse, i.e. toxic.
This is just as hard a process as the initial making something out of nothing, be it writing, painting, or composing. Just as hard, and much less enjoyable.


But discernment on how to use feedback is indispensable.


Early on, I took every single point to heart. Then I learned what worked for me. Here is the way I go about this stage—


A.    Feedback received, read, and with tears blurring my eyes  I type a Thank You  note.  I’m grateful for the time and thought they gave. This is not a fully digested reaction to the content.

B.     Letting the feedback rest for a time.


C.     Marking the points that make perfect sense with an exclamation. This part is actually enjoyable, not only because every fix is a clear improvement. What makes sense also makes me feel this reader understood my work. Then I make the suggested changes one by one. By now I feel I’m working, and things are looking up.

D.    Mark the points that maybe possibly sort of make sense to me with a question mark, to be addressed later.


E.     Mark the points that seem completely off with a red dot. I will return to them only after I digested all the rest, and have gotten more feedback from another beta reader.

F.      Keep the feedback as a printed or word file, because someday it will either resonate fully or be the funniest thing I ever read. But when fresh it’s not funny. 




I go through more or less all the above with all feedback. I continue to seek it. I do my best to give helpful feedback. It’s part of the writing life, and in a way, part of life, period.







14 comments:

  1. You have a good approach.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Thanks, Janie. Any approach that benefits the work and doesn't diminish the worker is a good one.

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  2. You have an excellent attitude and what sounds like a very workable approach. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. From my No.#1 Beta! I never worry about toxicity with you.

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  3. Great post. I'm in a really large critique group at the moment and it's interesting how often half of the readers will delete the same sentence others say they love.

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    1. Oh, tell me about it. It's particularly noticeable when editors' feedback collide.

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  4. So true. Feedback can be exciting because you can see that it's helping you figure out what you couldn't, or debilitating. It's good to learn this. Thanks.

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    1. The point to remember is that you are the author. Same for giving feedback-- Then, the writing isn't yours and you are just one reader wanting to help.

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  5. The first few times as a newbie, I cried. I have come to accept all feedback as reactions and opinions my varied readers might also have. It helps me to focus on the particular readers I am trying to reach. Sometimes I am just plain stubborn and tell myself, "Too bad. I like it and I am going with this!"
    Trine

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    1. Very natural and understandable first reaction. That's where I find that letting it sit a while is constructive.

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  6. Yeah, it took me a long time to develop thick skin about critiques. Most people mean well, even when their remarks are way off the mark because they don't understand the genre.

    I'm so grateful for my critique group, which I trust completely.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Barbara. *Trust* is a very important part of successful use of feedback.

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  7. Giving feedback time to settle in your mind is definitely key. Not all feedback is worth taking, but sometimes something that seemed crazy at first winds up making a lot of sense after I've given myself time to think it over.

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    1. So true, Kelly. I have gone back to points I had marked with a red dot (as "no!") and made changes based on them many months after I got them. They "settled" and then made good sense.
      But not always, and not all.

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