IWSG Post 22: Learning to Listen to Feedback #IWSG
[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]
This month’s awesome hosts are, Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key and Doreen McGettigan.
Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!
Back in high school, I faced my worst fear joining a creative writing group—public feedback. I’d been writing stories since the first grade and up to that point my stories and ideas had always been just for me. Not even my own family really understood my passion for words until much later.
Now looking back, I realize the gentle coaxing to join the group was pivotal to my next steps. I did enjoy sharing my chapters with a group of peers and our writing coach, our history teacher. I did like the subtle comments to add or expound or even clarify certain scenes or details. I also learned some of the pretty language was just for me, and not necessarily the reader. Still a teen myself though, I struggled with the personal side of comments. It wasn’t until later when I became a corporate trainer and trained to teach 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, did I realize the difference in specific and kind feedback and the others types of comments that didn’t matter so much.
This month IWSG questions asks us “What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
Helpful, sincere and specific feedback is my answer. I’m thinking of the importance of feedback in everything we do. There’s a balance of course in helpful and kind feedback verses critical feedback, which might be more about the person and less about improving skill or contributing to a clearer and more successful outcome. Those writing friends who do know the balance also do care for our own personal success.
We always have a choice of course, and feedback is biased and personal based on our own backgrounds, but I do believe it’s necessary if given in the right light.
And favorite quote this week?
Posted on July 5, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.
There is a difference. (I love that you are trained to teach the 7 Habits. Loved that book.) The definition of criticize is not to tear down but to build up. That’s what separates genuine, constructive criticism and negative complaining.
Thank you Diane. It was life changing and I wish I could have remained in that job but I chose to have a family instead 🙂
It can hurt, but if I put my feelings in my back pocket I always learn something new.
Anna from elements of emaginette
Thank you for stopping in today Anna. That’s the key, preparing the heart for something new and helpful 🙂
Constructive feedback helps us grow. The mean, critical kind doesn’t help anyone.
Thank you Alex. I agree 🙂
Yes, kind, constructive, and even encouraging feedback is super important. I’ve met writers who have been crushed by cruel words. Sometimes, people shortcut to being rude when they claim to just being honest. That doesn’t help anyone.
I agree Loni. Thank you so much for stopping in today 🙂
In one of my earliest experiences with a critique group, I got the distinct impression that everyone in the group wanted to show off how smart they were and how many writing rules they’d memorized. The experience sort of soured me to critique grouping for a while. Getting feedback is an important part of the process, but it’s even more important to learn how to recognize when feedback is helpful and when it is not.
“Helpful, sincere and specific feedback” – if only all feedback would look like that. Great post 🙂
I agree Ronel. Sometimes people get so into it, the outcome gets way too personal
It’s much easier to accept and appreciate critiques now then when I first started writing. It must have been really difficult as a teenager.
It really was but it was the beginning of bravery for me Susan. Thank you for stopping in 🙂
Someone once compared it to working out. You have to tear the muscle to have it grow back stronger. So when someone criticizes our work, it hurts, but in the end it makes us stronger.
I love that analogy Stephanie. Especially since I love working out and honestly understand that feeling 🙂
I found that different people give different feedbacks, some more helpful than others. You don’t have to follow every piece of advice you’re given, especially if it’s hurtful, but there is something useful in every feedback, even if you don’t agree with most of it.
That’s very true Olga. Thank you for stopping in today 🙂
I always believe in you. And I want to say again, because I’ve said it on a few other people’s blogs, we should put all of this month’s posts together, because they would save a lot of new authors a lot of heartache. This post is no exception.
Thank you Raimey, that is an excellent idea 🙂
Feedback is a real gift that we should embrace. I used to be a trainer and was certified in 7 Habits. Small world 🙂
Awww…it was the best most reflective training I ever received. Thank you for stopping in today Ellen 🙂
I value good feedback so much, and it takes some skill to give valuable and helpful comments about other people’s writing. I’ve been fortunate to find a few and I constantly tell them how they are appreciated. Thanks for this post. It was spot on.
I completely agree Lee and I am happy you have some really great writing friends to help. Thank you for visiting me today 🙂
If I’d thought of this one, I may have chosen it as my answer. It is so true, isn’t it, how helpful supportive critique is.
I don’t think I would be where I am today without it Jacqui. Thank you so much for stopping in today 🙂
I think I have a problem when the kind of feedback isn’t what I want to hear – telling me to take out a section I like, for instance. Still, feedback’s a huge part of the process when done right!
I agree with that 100% Erika. Back when I joined kiwiwrite4kids many years ago, the organiser said I should join a critique group but I was too nervous to share my work. It took me years to pluck up the courage. But once I did, my work blossomed. Now I am the one who goes around telling other writers they should join a critique group! 🙂
Thank you so much Yvette for sharing your thoughts with me. I am the same. We all need our circle of friends 🙂
This is a really great post! Critique groups can be very helpful.
Thank you Gina. I appreciate you stopping in today 🙂
Very brave of you to share your work as a teen, Erika. I was a lot older than that when I started sharing my writing with a critique group. Constructive criticism is so helpful, and those who can deliver feedback in kind and positive ways are gems.
Thank you for your sweet thoughts Lori. 🙂
Constructive, useful feedback is hard to come by. You’re lucky you found it at a young age!
I do feel lucky yet it was still very hard so young:)
Critical feedback can be hard to find indeed, as it all makes things better. Where as the hate crap does nothing at all.
Helpful, sincere, and specific feedback is wonderful! That’s great that you found it!
Thank you Tyrean 🙂
Feedback is an interesting thing, eh? It’s interesting, coming to the point where you can recognize the valuable kind vs the non-valuable kind. I think any time people are invested in one another, you’re more likely to find it–which tends to be the case more with in person groups.
That’s a really great point Crystal. We do want each other to succeed 🙂
You’ve been writing stories since the first grade? Aww. I can imagine how cute those early stories must be. 🙂
Helpful, sincere and specific feedback – yes, definitely. Constructive feedback is so important. And there’s a way we can do it without being offensive… it’s important to be tactful. For example, we can say: “I’m confused here. Is it possible to clarify?” in place of: “What do you mean when you say…”
Instead of pointing out what’s missing, rather ask for more information, for example:”I don’t understand why he reacted that way. I’d like to know more.”
If we learn to emphasize “I” statements over “you” statements then this helps writers take feedback as opinion, rather than personal blame/attack.
Thank you Michelle. I wish I could find them. So far the only ones I’ve discovered are from middle school. I have tons of idea books too. Thank you for sharing all the amazing ways to provide supportive feedback statements. Maybe in the future I can do a post on feedback statements 🙂
Great post, Erika. Feedback is the most impactful way for me to become a better writer. Unlike books or general guidelines, feedback speaks to my personal writing style, my choices, and my weaknesses, and I can see the point of the criticism in context. I grow not from hearing what works well, but from what doesn’t. Happy Writing.
Thank you Diana. You are exceptional at providing helpful and specific feedback. I hope you had a lovely weekend 🙂
I think I got so caught up in visiting new members that I forgot to stop by here. Glad I have that digest that comes to my email. I too wrote about feedback. It’s funny, I started writing at a very young age too, but the idea of being a writer never crossed my mind until I was an adult out of college. Guess at that point, I knew criticism and feedback were gonna come with the territory. Good post.
Thank you Toi. That’s very true. I appreciate you stopping in 🙂
I agree that feedback is vital for all authors, but especially newer ones, like me. Encouragement and information are also much needed. Networking is vital, especially via social media.
Well said Luccia. We all have to help each other along 🙂