As much as we can benefit from it, receiving feedback on our creative writing can be challenging. After all, writing requires both courage and vulnerability. Getting readers’ reactions to our works-in-progress is valuable, but it requires extra bravery and vulnerability. In this post, we’ll go over how to handle feedback on your writing so that you can use it constructively.
Maybe you read your work aloud to a regular writing group, or perhaps you send a copy home with a fellow writer friend to review. In either situation, capturing the exact feedback you receive in writing is good for a few reasons:
● Taking notes captures a reliable record of the feedback. Heightened emotions (i.e., fear or excitement) can affect your real-time interpretation of the comments, and we all know that memory can play tricks on how we recall events. If comments are written down, we’re less likely to misinterpret them later.
● Scribbling down the feedback gives you, the writer, something to do while you’re in this delicate position of having your work reviewed.
Say “Thank You” (And Leave it at That)
Thanking your reviewer acknowledges the effort they’ve put into reading your work and sharing their impressions. Whether their comments are positive, negative, or somewhere in between, you may feel tempted to respond. But restraint is wise here. Going on the defensive, justifying your decisions, or worse, arguing with the responder is not only a waste of time, but it may also lead to future reviewers censoring valuable feedback.
Find this useful?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.
In some cases, those giving feedback may be fellow writers. Writers generally treat your work with the same care, honesty, and respect for the creative process that they’d like their own to be treated with. Of course, some are better at this than others; others are like bulls in a China shop, leaving you feeling as if you’ll never write again. In any case, feedback should never be seen as verbal abuse. If you feel a critique has strayed into a personal attack, it’s okay to indicate that you’ve heard enough.
Keep an Open Mind
Feedback is an opportunity to capture specific responses from real readers and learn which parts of your writing are coming through clearly and which parts need a different approach. We all have blind spots, and receiving feedback with an open mind can help you see your work in a new light. Sift through the readers’ comments with gratitude, consideration, and a healthy grain of salt. A one-off negative comment may reflect more about a particular reader than your work, but similar observations raised by four or five readers may indicate something you need to address. So, consider all your feedback, hold it lightly, keep what serves you, and let go of what doesn’t.
Remember Who’s Boss
Who’s in charge? You are – this is your creative work. It’s humble, wise, and gutsy to test it out in the real world. After all, writing is both solitary and social. Feedback is part of the process, and it can strengthen your writing. But ultimately, your goals are your own, and you make the final decisions. So, make sure you strike a balance between consulting others and trusting your own instincts.
Editing and Proofreading
Hopefully, these tips help you enjoy the process of receiving feedback on your creative writing while keeping feedback in its proper place. Once you’re satisfied with the ideas and content of your writing, you’ll be ready to tackle the editing and proofreading stages of getting your work into the world. Our professional editors are here to help. You can even submit a free sample of 500 words.