5 Tips for Evaluating Writing Feedback and Advice

Writing feedback is great–but only if you know what to do with it. A healthy sense of your own Push, a clear mind, and a system for managing feedback will keep you on track with your vision and give you fresh insight and motivation.

I’m headed to the Realm Makers 2017 speculative fiction conference this weekend. I’ll be taking pitches for Uncommon Universes Press and mentoring authors on every stage of the journey.

And one thing I’ll make sure each author know is that they should evaluate every piece of advice and judgment they receive. Including mine.

Naturally, I think I’m fantastic at giving advice and feedback. Comes from being a teacher, coach, editor, and a kind-hearted know-it-all who really loves to fix problems and help people succeed.

But I’ve also been on the other side. I’ve gotten great advice from well-meaning people. I’ve gotten horrible advice from well-meaning people. I’ve gotten great advice from people who could be technically, scientifically classified as “meanies,” and I’ve gotten bad advice from meanies too.

The fact is, nobody’s perfect. The “meanie” person giving you feedback could be giving you good advice, but is just very blunt and/or hasn’t had their coffee that day. Or they could just be spiteful (because those people exist too). The kind and sweet person could be giving you bad advice, but doesn’t want to hurt your feelings or is just an indirect communicator. Or they could be really inexperienced (those people exist too).

And we’re all human. So even your perceptive of the individual could be suspect, colored by any preexisting relationships, personality clashes, emotional attachment (or lack thereof) to the manuscript, or even whether or not you’ve had coffee.

A healthy vetting process is vital to receiving, understanding, and processing writing feedback. Make sure you’re prepared with these five tips.

5 Tips for Evaluating Writing Feedback and Advice

1.) Take notes. Write everything down. Always save the notes they emailed to you, even if you don’t like them. You might think you’re a fast processor, but it is vital to give yourself time to process and glean whatever you can from their advice after thoughts, prayers, and consideration. If you really figure out later that it’s not useful, then you can delete/erase/burninate the feedback.

2.) Give yourself time. Don’t immediately try to understand everything, especially if it’s critique that points out flaws. Go through it in stages when you’re in a healthy, balanced state of mind. For some people, this might be half an hour. For others, it might be half a month. If you’re getting online help, take a step back and exercise or cook or do something else to clear your head. If you’re at a writing conference or workshop, step back and put the notes away. Have a glass of wine, go out to a coffee shop, watch a movie, or do whatever else you need to give yourself vital distance from your work.

3.) Remember your Push. Return to your notes, your motivation and vision statements, your direction for this manuscript, and the purposes behind its creation. Get clear and solid in your worldview and mindset, not so that you can cling to it excessively, but so you can understand your own biases and preferences. Those biases and preferences aren’t bad, but the purpose of feedback is to be challenged as well as encouraged.

4.) Get a variety of feedback. Publishers. Agents. Editors. Fellow authors. Readers. Feedback from all of these individuals can give you a solid sense of what you have, what you need, and where you’re going. Try to go for people who read and are familiar with you’re writing and trying to achieve. Also, always be gracious to the person giving you feedback, even if you don’t like it or agree with it. Grace is a professional and personal quality that never goes out of style.

5.) Evaluate the person you’re getting feedback from. Hopefully you’re getting feedback from people familiar with your genre and field, but sometimes that beta read gets sent to a broader audience, or you wanted to test out your project with an agent who is curious about your romance, but does more with action-adventure (and they had a free appointment at the conference).  It is fine to step outside of your comfort zone, but be aware that their feedback might not be normative. However, if you’re finding that your work is connecting more with the non-normative readers, then that might be a clue that you’re really in a different genre and don’t know it.

You may not fit into any genre boxes or conventions at all. You may just have to build your own box, tweaking your story’s exterior and setting a little to reach your readers (sadly, online websites and bookstores don’t have a special “steampunk + crime novel + middle grade + pseudo-memoir” section) while still keeping your core Push and stories as strong and as vibrant as you are. Never give up on your book just because it doesn’t fit in. Get out your writing tools and get to work!

Need advice? Sign up for a free 1:1 with me. I specialize in figuring out that sweet spot in drafting and marketing so you can Write Inside Out with freedom, clarity, and purpose.

Above all, keep seeking feedback. Whether easy or difficult, getting critiques is vital to the writing process and improvement in the craft. And your book is worth it.

Greetings Authors! Please share any other tips, thoughts, or feedback in the comments. I love talking with you!

 

Major Editing Giveaway!

My friend Bethany A. Jennings over at SimmeringMind.com is launching her editing career, and as part of that, is throwing one massive editing giveaway! I’m honored to be part of this. I’m giving away a print copy of my world-building textbook AND workbook:

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Plus, I’m giving away two hours of coaching and two ten-page comprehensive content edits! Check out my Coaching/Editing page for more details on how I help writers unlock their potential and refine their work so that it’s irresistible!

Go to the SimmeringMind.com to enter to win these and other awesome prizes, including posters, a coffee mug, blurb help, and more!

7 People You Meet During NaNoWriMo

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Greetings! To all of you in the thick of NaNoWriMo, here’s a little field report from what I’ve observed over the years I’ve either participated or observed this phenomenal, month-long event. I give you:

7 People You Meet During NaNoWriMo

1.) Word-Sprint Wizards – these dynamos are masterful at putting pedal to the metal in 30 minutes or less! When everyone else has 250 words after the 15 minutes is up, they have 500+! Bravo, wizards! You inspire the rest of us to keep going.

2.) Language Lyricist – they may not be the fastest writers, but when they post up snippets from their work-in-progress, the rest of us are in awe at the syntactical beauty. Lovely job! Reading your excerpts gives us beauty to appreciate, and encouragement to clean up our words after November.

3.) Awesome (Over)Achievers – it’s the end of week one and they’re at 40,000 words. These super-speedy writers leave our head spinning with their work ethic. Whether they’re trying to get out content really fast to have Thanksgiving Day free, or just doing a NaNoWriMo ultra-marathon, I say congratulations! Keep the finish line warm for the rest of us.

4.) Racing Rebels – whether writing fan-fiction, flash fiction, or any combination of non-traditional content, these writers are proud to follow their unique dreams to 50,000 words. High five, trail blazers! Write on.

5.) Manic Multitaskers – they work two full-time jobs, or have three kids, or are overseas serving on the mission field or military, or pulling double shifts as a nurse. Or any combination! These word masters are balancing a crazy amount of tasks and getting the job done (coffee must often be involved). Great hustle! We admire you for your dedication.

6.) Epic Editors – even though NaNoWriMo features their own editing month, you’ve chosen to make this one your time to shine and polish those words. Good for you! The rest of us will be in your shoes soon enough. Thanks for your word-smithing spirit!

7.) Chipper Cheerleaders – you’re not participating, but you have a friend/cousin/uncle/brother’s/former room-mate or some other sort of awesome relation participating, and you’re cheering them on! Thanks so much for the support. Writing is often a lonely gig, and we appreciate every bit of encouragement and enthusiasm you throw our way!

Can you think of any others? Please share!