If you want to get better at your creative work, at some point, you need
(oh no 😝)
Putting your head down and working away can seem like a good idea– you feel productive and safe — but if you aren’t getting skillful feedback as you work and applying it, your project has a much higher chance of going south or petering out.
But as a creative, my guess is you’ve had some crapola, even venomous, feedback experiences. (Possible understatement there.)
I know I have:
- A famous artist teacher glancing at my work as she walked around the classroom and saying zippo, then gushing over the artwork of the person next to me.
- 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.
- An editor at Big 5 publishing house “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 and yes I often eat a small child’s body weight in crunchy snacks in response but hey if you let your work out into the world, not everyone is going to like it. (Idiots abound.)
If you get nasty or unhelpful feedback, your job is to protect yourself until the sting abates.
Then you can reflect (perhaps after the aforementioned crunchy snacks or a good therapy session or five) on what you could learn for at unskillful response.
But what about when you are seeking actually helpful feedback?
How do you find those people who can truly help you?
Here’s what you might try:
Make a list of what you are struggling with.
Identifying, even a little bit, the type of feedback or help you need will make it easier to search.
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.
What style of support, coaching, and feedback 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 guidelines.
Too much peer 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.
In my Non-Fiction Mastermind, you can opt-in to get skillful feedback from your peers (using my precise guidelines) and from me, a writing coach for 20 years, and a professional writer for 30.
If you are scouting 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: what feedback is included? If you are unclear, ask the instructor!
I am furious at coaches and instructors who charge a billion dollars and then you have little contact and no feedback on your learning, it’s ridiculous. Reject that model!
In my Non-Fiction Mastermind, we have rotating coaching “hot seats” to get feedback from me on your hook, your point, and your progress as well as from the group. I’m also available for questions every day on our non-Facebook platform and during our 4 virtual writing retreats.
Use the feedback you get 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 work. You won’t lost 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 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 understand that feedback isn’t about me, it’s about my work.
And I know that everything I write grows me as a human and teaches me as a writer, so nothing is wasted.
You deserve feedback and learning experiences that nurture, excited, and lovingly challenge your creative brilliance. Don’t give up on finding what you need!