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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG - Digesting Feedback

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a once-monthly blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh that provides authors with an avenue to share their doubts and concerns (without fear of appearing foolish or weak), and to offer one another assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every first Wednesday of the month we gather to connect with one another and share our insecurities.

I've been extraordinarily fortunate to have nurtured a few new writing friendships this year, swapping market info, publisher feedback, and submission calls on a regular basis. Taking that a step further, I've also been fortunate to find a like-minded critic in one particular friend, somebody with whom I've become quite comfortable exchanging works-in-progress. Harry and I have very different styles, but a common interest in the dark and the surreal.

Of course, inviting honest feedback also means opening yourself to criticism. As much as we all want to be told "It's fantastic," that has little value beyond the artificial confidence boost. If you want to get better, to polish your writing in pursuit of "fantastic" then you need constructive criticism. Everybody digests that feedback in their own way but, for what it's worth, here's my approach:


  1. Read the comments, the good and the bad, and then walk away.
  2. Allow a day or two for your subconscious to work through those comments.
  3. Sit down and review the red-line edits, from beginning to end. Read the comments again (this time, in context of the deeper feedback). Review the red-line edits again (keeping the high level feedback in mind).
  4. Decide what your priority is going to be, and whether you think tweaking is in order, or a complete rewrite.
  5. Get it done.


The only thing worse than working blindly, without the benefit of feedback, is editing blindly, without the benefit of your best judgement. Make changes because they're right, and because they're making things better, not simply because they're making it different.

3 comments:

  1. Make it better not just different - very smart advice, Bob.
    My critique partners are awesome and I've never had a problem with getting solid feedback from them.

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  2. Aloha,

    And OMGosh are you spot on when you say don't rush into a burning building to try save all the red-line edits.

    (OK, so I paraphrased, but still... if you don't respect an editors time (especially the gentle ones) then why bother asking someone to read WIP ?

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  3. Great post, such good advice. Thank you for sharing :)

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