The subtle art of feedback
Love the bird graphic and the FDD label haha. I’m easy breezy with feedback as well and welcome it all.
Your feedback has helped me to become a much better writer, Tom, and it helped me to realize quickly that one of the fastest ways to grow as a writer is to get feedback from other experienced writers. But also, to truly understand and apply that feedback so that it becomes natural. It's gotten to the point where now I'm asking you to provide feedback on other people's stories so that we can compare notes. 🤣
Also, I don't know if you saw this, but I wanted to practice giving good feedback as well. So far, I've given feedback on three of the stories. Hopefully, for the better, but it takes practice doing that as well.
I love the flow of tua and your commitment to your writing, and of helping others, brilliant 🤩
I feel like we've had this conversation... lol
Yes, I think you and I are of the same temperment: I like both giving and receiving feedback. One of my (many) flaws though is that I'm not always at assessing if feedback is welcome (though I'm getting better). I probably assumed that everyone was like me -- eager for new viewpoints to see where they can improve. But as you point out, that's not always the case!
I always try to give constructive feedback though -- and that's the kind of feedback I like. Sometimes, feedback can be about the person, which I don't think it's the right approach. I believe feedback should be about the writing, not the writer (though I probably do praise the writer as much as the writing, rightly or wrongly...)
A writer friend of mine said once that you should learn how to give criticism before attempting, and I think that's a good idea. I was lucky -- one of the only things I learned in my university writing class was how to give and receive feedback. I'm not saying I'm perfect by any means. But as you point out, criticism is fraught with emotional landmines. Even if you do it perfectly, sometimes feelings get hurt. Learning at least the basics can increase helpfulness and decrease hurt feelings, in my experience.
Great post, Tom! (If you're open to hearing that...)
Lots of good observations and there has been some talk on notes about feedback as well.
In order for people to speak their mind you have to invite them and create an environment for them so they feel comfortable to do so. Public places don't invite such behaviour.
Like a writer friend of mine used to say: It's a bit like when you are in a restaurant, you ordered your food and the meal is "meh" or even worse, you can't take another bite and the waiter comes around and asks "How is everything?" and you answer "Fine, thank you!" because the alternative is unthinkable.
Did you ever give feedback about a crappy dish at a restaurant?
Wow, just wow - such a valuable post, Tom. No, it's more than valuable: it's important.
You've made me think a whole lot about feedback and reaction and how I judge both my own words and the words of others. I really enjoy the Comments space and like to bounce around thoughts and ideas with other readers and writers in the comments on both their posts and mine.
If I've enjoyed reading a post I'll certainly let the writer know that! <- I like this one! 😉
Three minute praise feedback sandwich is a good rule. I could do with more feedback, not less.
1: something you like (I liked your own post here as I think it is broadly true)
2: something you find annoying or wrong (I think troll writers and fascists need a good kicking)
3: Something else you like (I think in general you are correct - that if a writer gets no feedback at all, then they will perish and give up).
💯 Glad you started with "Is feedback welcome?" In writing, and in life, great advice! :)
I’m always happy to receive your feedback, Tom. I know it’s done from a generous place, and you seemed to also intuit that I want to improve and welcome opportunities. You get back the energy and space you put out ❤️
This is all such great advice! And thank you for mentioning my post on rejection. We take it all so hard and it's not personal!
"I sometimes joke that if you don’t think your reviewer is an asshole and an idiot when you first read their feedback, one of you has done something wrong." This is so true, and it's good to review feedback when you have space and time to rebound from the feeling. At least for me. Tom, your framing of feedback is so useful. (And thanks for including me in the list, my friend!)
Great post! I like giving/receiving feedback - and always try to use the tone I'd want used if directed to me.
This Kris Mole character seems like one chilled out dude.
+1 about inviting the feedback. Great post, and thanks for the rabbit trail of links you provided. Will be checking out Sarah Fay as well.
Unless someone explicitly asks for my feedback, I assume they don't want it. If they put a piece out into the world, they may just want me to read it as a form of self-expression, which I think is perfectly valid. I've been in a lot of writer's groups over the years, and I think people are way too afraid of letting someone have an imperfect piece of writing, as if they're personally responsible for the crappiness of someone else's work. I also think that people often confuse "comfortable to read" with "good." Sometimes, the best writing requires time, patience, and willingness to trust the writer. Of course, this all stems from the view that there's such a thing as an objectively good piece of writing. There isn't. It's subjective. Some writing is more widely appreciated than others, but there are many variables that contribute to the success of a piece that don't necessarily have to do with the skill of the writer. I think the real danger is that someone will stop writing or they won't take risks because they're worried about what their critics will say. With that being said, I provided extensive feedback to a friend when she wrote the first draft of a novel, and that novel is coming out soon. I'm so proud to have been part of that process.