If you want to get better at your creative writing, at some point, you need
Feedback on your writing skills
(please take a breath and relax any clenched jaws or buttocks)
Putting your head down and working away can seem like a smart idea– you feel productive and safe — but if you aren’t getting skillful feedback on your creative writing as you write and applying it, your project has a much higher chance of going south or petering out.
But as a writer, my guess is you’ve had some crapola, even venomous, feedback on your creative writing. (Possible understatement there.)
I know I have…
- A screenwriting teacher telling me my screenplay about two older friends becoming lovers was “disgusting.”
- A writing group member going off on a 10-minute tirade because she didn’t like my content.
- A Big 5 publishing house editor “inheriting” a book of mine when the acquiring editor was fired, telling me “I’m not a fan of your work and I don’t want to do this book but I have no choice.” (I pulled the book.)
- People and Publisher’s Weekly giving me bad reviews.
- A one-word review for Why Bother “dull.”
Yes, it’s heart-bruising to get hurtful feedback on your writing and yes I often eat a small child’s body weight in crunchy snacks when I do but hey if you let your work out into the world, not everyone is going to like it. (Because hey, clearly, idiots abound.)
If you get nasty or unhelpful feedback on your creative writing, your job is to protect and soothe yourself until the sting abates.
Perhaps after the aforementioned crunchy snacks or a good therapy session (or five) will take care of you, or some time off.
Then, if you want, you can reflect on anything that you could learn from that feedback–often it will be zip.
Okay bad feedback covered, let’s talk about…
From the national best-selling author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and Why Bother.
5 Ways to Start
Your Non-Fiction Book
You can write your book faster, easier, and better.
I’ve written 9 books with about a million copies sold.
I’m not one of those creepy people who make it hard to unsubscribe or email you again nine years after you’ve unsubscribed. Giving me your email is like a coffee date, not a marriage proposal.
How To Get Helpful Feedback on your Writing
Here’s what I encourage my writing clients to do:
- Make a list of what you are struggling with in your work right now.
Identifying, even a little bit, the type of creative writing feedback you need will make it easier to go on the hunt.
- What style of feedback on your writing skills helps you grow?
To state the obvious: you get to ask for the style of feedback you need when you are paying for it. Don’t like someone’s style? Go elsewhere.
- Peer groups need structured feedback guidelines that are reinforced regularly.
In my writing programs, you can opt-in for peer feedback and I’m a broken record reminding people to follow the carefully formulated guidelines I’ve created over many years.
Too much writing feedback is useless or even detrimental because the other writers or artists don’t know how to give feedback. One friend realized her writing group was fun, but after a year, her novel wasn’t getting any better because they didn’t know enough about story structure to help her.
- If you are scouting writing teachers to learn from, first take their free classes or watch their videos or read their work. What’s their vibe? Does it fit yours?
Read their sales page carefully: do you get feedback on your writing? If you are unclear, ask.
- Use the feedback on your writing skills as you go forward. When I work with individual writing clients I ask them to incorporate my notes as they go so they can improve and learn thus making the unfolding project stronger.
Try to do the same with your creative writing. You won’t lose steam or confidence, you will gain it!
- Finally, do the inner work necessary to take in useful feedback without getting defensive.
When my writing coach told me that my memoir, a work of four years, didn’t work I knew she was right and it took me almost no time and only a few tears to let it go.
That’s because I’m a seasoned writer and an old human who understands that feedback on my writing isn’t about me, it’s about my work.
I know that everything I write grows me as a human and teaches me as a writer, so nothing is wasted.
You deserve to get feedback on your writing that nurtures, excites, and lovingly challenges you to grow and learn. It’s totally possible to get that kind of feedback on your creative writing and writing skills. Don’t give up on finding what you need!
And run away from writing feedback that hurts!