Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Taking Feedback

Wow, I knew you guys were good! Thanks for all the advice you shared on Monday. Seriously, you all rock.

So here's the question for today:

What's one thing to remember or do when taking feedback?

I'm also teaching a class on taking feedback. I'm excited for this one, because I've had to learn a lot over the years about this very subject. Feedback can be a tricky thing. You have to remember that someone took the time to read and critique your book for you. They cared enough to spend hours if not days working on helping you--whether you think every edit they gave is golden, or whether you completely disagreed with all of it, or fell somewhere in the middle.

It's easy to get offended when someone tries to tell you about something that didn't work in your book. But to be successful as a writer, you have to not only get past the urge to get offended, you have to be able and willing to listen, to contemplate it, and to make appropriate changes based on the feedback you get. It's a process that doesn't end with CPs. Your agent, and your editor will both do the same thing. It's also important as a CP to understand how the author you're working with assimilates the feedback. Everyone has a different way of understanding and absorbing edits, and you can't get offended by how someone takes the critiques you offered.

So tell me, what are your tricks and tips for taking feedback? I'm excited to share some of mine at this conference, but I know you probably have some great ones I haven't thought of. Thanks again for sharing!

Happy Wednesday!


Ruth said...

It's important to remember that our books aren't meant for us in the end. Meaning we are writing it to be read by others. Sometimes we know our stories so well in our head that we forget that a reader doesn't know those things. That they will see it from a totally different perspective that will reveal weak spots and flaws. Things that we know, but haven't fleshed out in the book. When faced with questions and suggestions, what good is it to explain what we meant when the story should do that.

The Dixon Family said...

First, say thank you. Whether you agree or not. When I get feedback that I don't initially agree with, I like to think about it for a few days. Then I can compare the comment with other comments I've received so I know if others have pointed out the same thing or liked it as is. How does it fit into my overall vision for the piece? Also, is it important or is it one of the many details?

Jennie Bailey said...

I keep my mouth shut and listen! That's my trick. I don't interrupt unless they ask me a question. I do not defend. I listen to every single word. I write it down (if they haven't already). To make my writing stronger, I have to be willing to listen to others. If something in my story doesn't make sense to several readers, then I need to address it. Feedback can only make me stronger. I do not take it personally. It's not a swipe at my character or my writing ability/talent. It's meant in good way, to build me up and make the book stronger. I heart feedback from my Crit Group. I also love it from the hubster. He's not into YA at all. So he always makes very good suggestions about plot. He has excellent questions. He makes me a better writer. And person. :-) But the person part has nothing to do with his feedback.

Great post!!

Melody Valadez said...

1. You don't need to 'respond' to your CP's comments. They're just trying to help. Your defense of your MS means nothing to them (in a good way).
2. Don't think about all the changes you'll have to make right away. Let it rest overnight.
3. Make a special document of all the good things they said about your MS. Look at it when you get discouraged.
4. If your CP is reading chapter by chapter, keep an eye out for similar notes that crop up. This may be an overall problem.
5. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a break. You CAN overcome all those edits. It just takes time. :)

ali said...

Sara! Sorry I've bene absent!

I love that you're teaching a class on TAKING feedback. We learn a lot about GIVING critiques, but knowing how to handle the advice when it comes is never discussed, is it?

For me, I'd say, don't think too much about the criticism as it comes in. Just receive. Don't get defensive, don't try to explain yourself. Just receive. Then later, when the comments have had time to percolate into your psyche, when you're all alone, look through/think about what was said. Chances are, when you've given yourself time to process, you'll discover there are truths in what was said that could help you.

Have fun!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

For me, the trick is to only let people I really trust read my work to critique. I think that's step one. You did a great job covering this, though. I think your talk is going to be magnificent.

Russo said...

This is great post. You're so right, listening to the feedback is what matters. I love how you stated, "But to be successful as a writer, you have to not only get past the urge to get offended, you have to be able and willing to listen, to contemplate it, and to make appropriate changes based on the feedback you get."

SO awesome.