I’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…
- It has to be from someone who you respect.
- It has to be constructive, in other words it has to explain why something was good or bad.
- It has to give you direction.
- It has to concentrate on the negatives otherwise what’s the point?
- It has to be delivered in a way that doesn’t make it sound like a personal attack.
- Ideally it’s given in a feedback sandwich. Positive/Negatives/Positive.
What it’s not…
- It’s never from someone who you’ve not even asked. Who listens to anyone that says, ‘can I offer some advice?’
- It’s not just, ‘you’re really great, this is perfect. I don’t know what else to say, I was blown away.’
- It’s not a list of everything that’s crap without any reason why.
- 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
- You have to take it on the chin.
- You have to listen and learn.
- You have to understand that the intent from the person giving the feedback is to help you.
- You have to actively consider all of the points made and justify to yourself if you agree with them.
- 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.