5 tips for receiving feedback
Asking for feedback is a must if you want to improve your writing. Of course, getting the feedback might not be a pleasant experience. That makes it all the more important that you get the most out if it, so here are my five top tips fir receiving feedback on your writing.
1. Before you start – pick your reviewers carefully
For a start, you don’t want too much feedback, so I think it’s a good idea to limit your number of critics to 5 well thought out selections. Be careful, and honest with yourself about your choice. You want people who:
- will be honest with you and not just say nice things
- Can communicate what they think about your writing
- Read often
You might also want people who are familiar with the genre you are writing in, but that might depend on what your aims are for the piece.
2. Don’t argue.
There will be a temptation to defend your writing when receiving criticism. This is fair enough, but as soon as you start arguing your case, you’ve closed the doors. Instead, force yourself to be quiet when receiving criticism. Don’t reply, other than to thank them (this includes replying in writing). Not arguing forces you to carefully consider what has been said. That does not mean you have to agree. As long as you have taken it in, if you still don’t agree, that’s fine.
3. Weigh up the responses.
You have to decide how much a particular criticism is worth and whether you will take it on. Again, be honest; it can be very easy to find reasons to dismiss all criticism. But if you’ve selected your critics carefully it’s almost certainly not the best option.
Having said that, there may be perfectly good reasons to give greater weight to some people’s comments over others. One person, unfamiliar with the genre, could find one passage confusing, whereas an aficionado in that genre might sail through it without comment or give it particular praise. Now, depending on how accessible you want the piece to be, you could change it to suit one person or the other.
Also, numbers make a difference. A comment that comes up more than once within a group of five people, certainly warrants your attention.
4. Let them know what you expect.
If you are after something specific, tell them. If you want them to just give general comments, tell them that. Give them the list of tips for giving feedback from this website if you like especially if they are not used to giving feedback.
Making sure they know what you are expecting adds value to the comments you get. Otherwise you risk getting something back that you can’t use.
5. Remember, it’s your writing.
You can’t please all the people all the time. There will come a time (numerous times, in fact) when, having considered the comments made against your writing, you simply can’t change it. You just don’t agree with the point being made. And anyway, you know that later in the story, this and this will happen, clearing up the confusion in that exchange and explaining just why the banana ended up there in the first place.
So, you make an executive decision, and you don’t change it. Or you change it in another way entirely. The point is, never relinquish control. This is your piece, and in the end, it’s down to you, and not them.
That’s your lot! I hope that is of some use. But if not, let me know what tips you would give. I welcome any feedback in the comments. Come on, I can take it