The Power Of Great Feedback

feedbackI’ve just received some great feedback from an author who I truly respect. They write in the same genre as me, they’re from the same part of the world as me, and they’re already successful. What made the feedback so great was that it was terrible.

So terrible, in fact, that I had to read it through my fingers as they were trying to cover my eyes from the humiliation. It was painful, it took my breath slightly, and I started to feel a little nauseous. As the world started to wobble around me, my first instinct was to launch my phone at the wall in anger but then I began to make sense of it all. It was such good feedback that instead of making me feel demoralised, it’s actually given me guidance to improve. It got me thinking about what actually is ‘great’ feedback…


What it is…

  1. It has to be from someone who you respect.
  2. It has to be constructive, in other words it has to explain why something was good or bad.
  3. It has to give you direction.
  4. It has to concentrate on the negatives otherwise what’s the point?
  5. It has to be delivered in a way that doesn’t make it sound like a personal attack.
  6. Ideally it’s given in a feedback sandwich. Positive/Negatives/Positive.

What it’s not…

  1. It’s never from someone who you’ve not even asked. Who listens to anyone that says, ‘can I offer some advice?’
  2. It’s not just, ‘you’re really great, this is perfect. I don’t know what else to say, I was blown away.’
  3. It’s not a list of everything that’s crap without any reason why.
  4. It’s seldom from a peer, it has more weight if it comes from a mentor, someone who has already reached where you aspire to be.

Your role in feedback

  1. You have to take it on the chin.
  2. You have to listen and learn.
  3. You have to understand that the intent from the person giving the feedback is to help you.
  4. You have to actively consider all of the points made and justify to yourself if you agree with them.
  5. You have to be honest with yourself.

So, thank you to the person who has given me this great feedback today. I have listened and I will implement some changes in my writing from now on. Remember, great feedback, from someone who you respect, is more important than any writing course or a ‘pat each other on the back’ writing circle. Don’t discard it if you’re lucky enough to get it in the first place.


12 responses to “The Power Of Great Feedback

  1. Interesting perspective regarding criticism. I am sure it’s necessary as long as it’s given in a non-humiliating way. Would love to know more specifics.

  2. New learning is exhilarating and motivating. New learning achieved through truly hearing a critique is particularly special…….as it provides stronger foundations to build on. Seems like you’re building!
    Good critique is SO much more useful than platitudes………..pleased to know you are hearing the message behind the words.
    Just started the book so I’ll be in touch!

  3. “You have to take it on the chin.” Hear, hear!

  4. Want. To. Leave. Feedback. But. Not sure. Meet. Criteria… Brain hurting!

    For me, I’ll take feedback from anyone. If it’s delivered as you say above – what THEY liked, what THEY didn’t like. And WHY – the whilst it may be hard to listen to, at the end of the day, if it’s their opinion and it’s delivered reasonably sensitively, then you can’t argue with it. What you choose to do with it is an entirely different matter though.

    Advice is completely different. Advice should only be given when asked for. Unasked for advice gets my goat up. And whilst it’s a lazy goat, once he’s up, he stays up.

  5. Agree! I have a close friend who is not a writer but way back when I began writing, she was brutally honest when she told me what was wrong with my writing. At first, I was indignant, but only until I tried out her suggested improvements, because that was when I saw she was right.
    When I’m critiquing, I usually warn the writer how honest I am and then I explain why I want them to do the same to me. It’s lovely to have people say nice things about my writing, but I rarely learn anything from those words.

  6. This is so true. WordPress seems like it would be the perfect place to workshop writing, but it just ends up being a huge circlejerk of compliments…

    • True, but it’s difficult getting feedback from people you don’t know. Writing’s subjective and we’re all different people who like different things anyway. You could run the risk of allowing yourself to be influenced by a freak who wears adult baby-grows.

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