Look for feedback in the right places, from the right people

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The colleague who professes to ‘know his stuff’ when it comes to poetry, but lets slip that he couldn’t find the deeper meaning in your experimental poems. The neighbour who volunteered to read your science fiction manuscript leaning over the garden wall to tell you that he thought the story was a little far-fetched, but he enjoyed “the bit in the middle”.

You smile. You nod. You think, “Water off a duck’s back. They obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.” Still, a new and unpleasant hesitation has begun to arise when you sit down to write. Maybe you’re not as good as you thought you were. Maybe your poems are existential twaddle. Maybe you should scrap the manuscript and try something else.

It’s natural to desire feedback on your writing. You want to know that you’re on to something. You want to feel validated. But tread carefully, writers. People everywhere are itching to share their opinions, and quite often, these opinions are utterly useless. Not only that, looking for feedback in the wrong places and from the wrong people can throw you off track, dampen your confidence and cramp your style.

You have to look for feedback in the right places, from the right people. People whose opinions you respect, whose opinions are worth their weight. It could be a freelance editor who’s active your chosen genre. They’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the piece with you, and you can work together to refine the plot that’s been weighing you down. It could be an articulate and well-read writing group you’ve heard about. They take their writing seriously and give careful, considered feedback. Are they accepting new members?

Qualified, quality feedback improves our writing and helps us finish what we’ve started. The right kind of feedback tells us what we need to hear. Anything less…is BS.

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2 comments

  1. most peoples opinions are shit cos they don’t have a clue what there on about – perhaps especially in different cultures when it comes to creative writing or poetry. in fact, people create reality for themselves by looking for evidence that their opinions are correct.

    I think that a real writer will concentrate on writing “what they want” and “enjoy” and not what they think will sell in the book shops; because your attitude will come across differently whatever instrument you use, and you will step aside into alternative realities that are as valid was whatever you have now. it won’t come though unless you let your shoulders down.

    Writing is a great talent to have in many fields while you wait until the right moment comes along. Then again, some people never even grew up or were genetically capable of working in a normal 9-5 type job. You are not in a moment of decision but in a moment where it sounds like you have woken up a little and all you need to do now is wait for the opportunities to arrive if you’re aware of them in the ether. In the meantime, relax, find a job, don’t worry about status, what the job is – but just do your own thing. explore life and working like an adventure – if your creative that’s certainly the best attitude to go about things anyway

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