10 Tips For Getting Feedback On Your Writing

By on July 19, 2017
10 Tips For Getting Feedback On Your Writing - Writer's Life.org

Every writer needs feedback on their writing - whether they want it or not. Useful feedback can really help us learn and improve, make better decisions and be more ruthless when it comes to editing our books.

Of course, getting feedback can be tough. Our writing is precious and personal, and if you have managed to get to the end of your first draft you will have no doubt put considerable time and effort into doing so.

It’s important when we ask for feedback that we make sure we get the most out of it. We might think our writing is earth shatteringly good, we might think it is utter garbage, and many of us swing from one extreme to the other depending on our mood, the time of day, or how much caffeine we’ve had.

So how do you make sure that you get feedback that will help you improve your work? Here are 10 useful tips.

1. Accept that you need it

All writers need people to review and critique their work. You have to face the fact that you are probably too close to it and have read it too many times to know what’s working and what isn’t. So don’t ever submit your work without letting other people read it first.

2. Don’t ask for feedback until your manuscript is ready

Make sure you have done everything in your power to make your manuscript as good as it can be before you hand it over. If you already know it needs improving or there are scenes that don’t work, the feedback will just be telling you what you already know.

3. Be specific about what you want

Make sure you let them know exactly what you are hoping for from their feedback. Ask specific, thought-provoking questions and guide them a little. Similarly, if there are things you don’t want comments on, make that clear too.

4. Don’t just ask anyone

Don’t ask people who you know love you too much to be honest with you. An ideal person is someone who you trust to give you helpful and honest feedback, and someone who knows what they are talking about too.

5. Get more than one opinion

The more people you can get to give you feedback on your work the better. This way you will have a collection of different opinions to compare and contrast which could be very useful.

6. Look out for repetition

Look through all your feedback and look out for themes where different people have made the same or a similar comment. If more than one person is saying it, it probably needs attention.

7. Don’t get defensive

Remember, you asked for feedback, if you don’t like it, that’s too bad! Getting defensive or trying to explain your work will only put people off trying to help you again.

8. Understand when feedback isn’t helpful

Sometimes feedback genuinely isn’t helpful. Useful feedback is insightful and will point out things in your book, but also explain why they need more work. Comments like ‘didn’t like this’ aren’t helpful and it’s OK to recognise this and brush them aside.

9. Ask questions

It’s OK to ask questions about your feedback, to probe a little deeper and ask for a bit more detail. Remember to do this politely - explain why you need further explanation and never sound like you are challenging them.

10. Remember, you have the final say

You are the writer, it’s your work, so at the end of the day, you have ultimate control. If you feel very strongly about something and don’t want to change it then no one will force you - go with your instincts and stay true to yourself.

These 10 tips will help you to obtain useful feedback and know what to do with it when you do - the rest is up to you!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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