Monday, March 14, 2016

Good Feedback: Don't Get Down, Get Better!

Don't let healthy feedback 
bog you down with extra baggage.
I've noticed a pattern with my current project. I'll write some new scenes, check them over, and send them off to my critique group. What happens? Those pages I liked so well will come back with many comments and tracked changes marked. Sigh. That's the norm in this business. Before I tell myself (again) that I'm no good at this new genre, it deserves closer inspection. Here's what I've discovered:
1. It comes in threes. I send the first draft, revise and send the second draft, and by the third go around, we're all pretty happy with my scene. Good feedback plays an important role in progression.
2. I'm seeing the same scenes with rewrites two and three times from my partners. This tells me that we are all in the same boat, we all struggle, and we all make improvements each time we incorporate good feedback. Revisions are a necessary part of the game.
3. This doesn't mean our writing sucks or is still on the same level as when we first formed our group. More likely, our critiques are getting more sophisticated and our editing skills are improving along with the writing. All aspects of the craft will improve with regular exercise.
4. The trick to staying positive and not taking well-intended suggestions personally is knowing we can make improvements when we recognize the reason for the comment. Who doesn't want their craft to get better? So, when a comment last week said, Boring. You can do better, and was softened by a smiley face, I checked the highlighted portion and recognized it as Telling. Okay, I can fix that. No wounded ego necessary.

All of the above is based on feedback from those who share mutual trust,  respect, and similar skill levels, of course. I don't recommend you stay in a group where neither the feedback makes sense nor they have anything positive to say. The same person who told me a few words were boring wrote this at the end of my submission: Nicely written scene! Much more realistic and fun to read!

With healthy feedback, don't let it get you down, turn it into better writing. Fear rejection? Click here for a wonderful, inspirational post by my niece, Hannah Holt, called The Art of Tumbling: How to Fail without Falling to Pieces. It goes well with today's topic.

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