Feedback. The act of putting your work in front of someone with an opinion and waiting anxiously to hear that critique. It’s what every writer both craves and fears. Because, how can we improve as writers if someone doesn’t tell us what we do well, and, more importantly, what we can improve on?
Good feedback is obviously the best. It provides some validation that, hey, you’re no so bad at this whole writing thing. For a moment, the self-doubt abates and you can feel some pride in what you are doing.
But not all feedback is good. More often than not, criticism is harsh and negative—it stings to hear it. But it can be a treasure trove of tips and advice to help mold you into a better writer.
I receive mountains of feedback all the time, whether it be at work or in my creative writing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a little disappointing to hear about the flaws in your work, but I’ve developed a thick skin. If someone is willing to put in the effort to give you an honest critique, their opinion is worth looking at, and at least considering it.
I’m learning to take any comments people are willing to give me on board because I know that it is the only way to improve. All the practice in the world won’t help if readers don’t like it. In saying that, it is worth critiquing the critique. Are their suggestions based purely on their own personal taste, or are they giving to a real nugget of information? Have you heard this same critique before? All of these questions can help you determine if the feedback you have received is useful. In saying that, I personally believe all feedback is useful, even if you don’t actively use it because the more you can see how other people view your work, the better you can be at self-critiquing.
As a final point, before you read (or hear) criticism, take a breath and remember that they are not criticising you as a person, they are giving you their opinion on the words you wrote on a page. You can choose to believe them or not because, after all, it’s your work, not theirs.