Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Handle Feedback

Writers, by their very nature, will have to face feedback during their lives. Whether it is asked for (critique partners) or given without your request (reviews on say, Amazon), there will be positive feedback and negative feedback.

Each writer has (hopefully) heard that if you want to be a writer, you need to be able to take rejection and by implication, negative feedback. Lots of people would probably say that they can take it, but it is naturally ingrained in each human being to focus more on the negative than the positive. In an article on Psychology Today, Karen Wright writes (no pun intended) that John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist, found that there is stronger brain activity in response to negative stimuli than positive stimuli.

In the same article, Wright mentions that it is harder to accept feedback from a peer or someone lower than you (interestingly enough, this includes positive feedback). It is because of this that step-parents struggle to control their step-children – the kids don’t recognise their authority.

Here are some things to keep in mind when getting feedback:
-Don’t ask people to critique your work if you feel they don’t have authority to give you advice.
-Know that the more narcissistic or insecure you are, the more the criticism will hurt.
-In the case of critique partner or beta reader, remember that you are the one who asked for feedback.
-When you get negative feedback, don’t immediately include or dismiss it. Allow yourself to come out of your fight-or-flight mode and then look objectively at it.

Perhaps a most important point here is remembering that not everyone will like your story. This is nicely put on Simon C. Larter’s blog.

Feedback is a necessary step in writing that lets us see how others perceive our work. Handle your critique partners and beta readers in such a way that they will give truthful feedback and in that way help you with your story.

How do you handle getting feedback? How do you handle GIVING feedback?

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