Monday, 7 April 2014

Feedback, Fears and Fragility


When we start as new writers, it can often be hard to ask for feedback from others. Perhaps we are nervous about what others might think and we don't think we're good enough or that they'll tell us something we don't want to hear, i.e. our writing is rubbish. Putting yourself out there and asking for feedback can be an harrowing experience and one that lots of writers put off.


What is that stops us from seeking feedback? I believe that it is linked to our personal fears. What if others think our stories are terrible and they tell us so? What if they criticise our writing - surely that's the same as criticising us direct? What if I've put all this effort into something and other people hate it - I'll have wasted so much time. If I continued in this loop, I could very easily convince myself never to write again - after all who wants to put themselves out there to potentially get slapped straight back down again. We all generally like to be in a position of being able to protect and keep ourselves safe and we can easily do this by not sharing our writing. But by keeping ourselves safe, we could be missing out on some tremendous experiences too. What if people love our writing, what if they only have good things to say about it, what if it in someway it has changed a life, what if we can grow and learn from the feedback we receive - is it honestly fair to keep our writing to ourselves if we can have an impact on others and ourselves?

I once went to see a guy called Nick Williams speak during my coaching training. He has written several books but one of his most popular is called: The Work we were born to do. During his discussion he talked about us all receiving gifts and that it was our responsibility to share those gifts with others. That particular concept has stayed with me for a long time and I particularly use it when having career coaching discussions with clients. I believe that I have been given the gift of writing. It might not always be good writing and I might not always be happy with it, but I intend to keep doing it and I also intend to keep sharing it with others.

I have the same fears as other writers - I hate rejection. I yearn to be accepted. I don't want to write from the heart, bleed onto the page and then find that my work is rejected, but that is a fact of life. Not everyone can like or have empathy with the words I write, in the same way that not everyone will like me. I can't be all things to all people. I'm simply not going to be everyone's bag but then again there are people I don't like and author's books that I've not enjoyed or returned to the library unread or even worse partially unread. We all have degrees of fragility in respect of our writing, me no less than anyone else, but if you don't put it out there you may never discover just how fabulous you are!

16 comments:

  1. I really liked this. Good job and you hit the nail on the head about not wanting to put your words out there. At the same time that you don't want them to hate them, you them to tell the truth, even if it is this could be changed. Help is always great.

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    1. Hi Stella, many thanks for dropping by and commenting. Good to have you here. Yes, there's certainly a risk. You have to decide if you're prepared to take the risk even if that means you might not like what they have to say. Hopefully though it will be helpful in some way or other.

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  2. Feedback is so important but so hard to get used to. I don't know that we ever get over the fragility. We get stronger, but it always hurts deep inside.

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    1. Hi Charity, thanks for dropping by and for commenting. Yes we are fragile but like you say we strive to be stronger. I try and view feedback as an opportunity to grow and develop my own writing style whenever possible. That of course is if it's given constructively and with good intention which isn't always the case.

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  3. We write to be read. At least I do. That's the bottom line with any form of communication: we want someone on the other end to hear us, and maybe respond. But, as you say, we fear rejection, and we feel inadequate, which is why we struggle with 1) wanting to be read, but 2) not wanting anyone to read our work. I think we just have to come to terms with the fact that if we want to achieve 1), we'll have to suck it up and get used to 2). And bouncing our work off of beta readers or crit partners is the best way to do that. Their objective criticisms help us hone our work, so when it goes before publishers, editors, and agents, it shines, and we can be confident we're really putting our best work out there.

    Good post, Angela! :)

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    1. Hi Colin, thanks for your comment. I like you want someone to hear me and respond - so we have to take the good with the bad and like you say suck it up so that our work can shine.

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  4. Right now I am writing and posting for other reasons so haven't invited much critiquing. I have found the feedback of likes and comments do show me the readers' interests and whether I am getting so wordy I have lost meaning.

    One post I read got no comments but one that said the person felt lost in it. I knew what I wanted to say and also know that much of what I am posting on this writing journey site will go through editing if I ever choose to use it further.

    I happened to show the piece that didn't go over well with my pastor since its context was in my church. He got the content and gave me reason to re-edit it, down 300 word, for re-posting in our church blog. The feedback and the encouragement went hand in hand for helping me grow as a writer.

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    1. That's great that you have someone you can go to help. Good luck with your writing journey.

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  5. Good stuff. I don't take criticism well so that's something that kind of freaks me out about asking for feedback, but I ALWAYS am able to improve my work if I get a second opinion. It helps so much to have someone else take a look at it more objectively.

    My favorite person to bounce ideas off is my husband. Granted, he has a rather positive bias of me, but he's not afraid to let me know if something could be made better, if my theology is off, or if I'm giving completely terrible advice.

    As scary as feedback and criticism can be, they are so necessary for helping us grow as writers!

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    1. Hi Jaimie, I tend to go to my husband first too. He too is a little biased I'm sure, but he is also honest and gives good constructive feedback that helps me explore new ideas and grow.

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  6. Your are exactly right--we can't be all things to all people. I hate rejection, but if I want to have a writing career, I need thick skin. It is nice to know that all great authors have had their writing rejected more than once:)

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    1. Hi Jennifer, Yep it's good to know it happens to the best of us. J K Rowling was turned down numerous times before Harry Potter was published. Shows we need thick skin and to keep going.

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  7. Fantastic post! Fears and fragility describe writers exactly. Yet we must take that chance and put ourselves out there. :)

    Good luck with the Challenge!

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    1. Good luck to you too and thanks for dropping by and posting a comment. I appreciate it.

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  8. I put a lot of my work up on my blog, so I'm not screed of criticism...but...when people say nice things about it i think they're only being kind lol...cant win ;) Great post and good luck with the rest of the challenge x

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  9. Like you say Vikki, sometimes no matter what people say, we are keen to sabotage one way or another. Good luck to you too.

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