Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Advice: A Writer Needs Feedback

Every writer knows that the only way to get that book, story, poem, etc., done is to write. We also know that the only way to improve is to get feedback, honest, no holds barred feedback.  I teach creative writing, and I tell my new students every year that I will be considerate but honest.  They will know what the strengths were in the piece as much as where growth is occurring and where it is needed.  Every writer needs this and for some, like myself, it is hard to come by.

I am a teacher, and since I want my students focusing on what I am teaching them and not on me, I don't advertise that I am a indie writer.  I have told only a couple people in my family and just one friend.  I know they'll keep my writing activities secret.  But where does that leave me for feedback: well in a very limited space.  I have become friends with several writers, and those connections has been helpful because they know what I mean when I say tell me everything so I can get better.  They want honest feedback from me, and I want the same from them.  And it has been worth any uncomfortable feeling I might get from seeing the flaws pointed out in what I thought was a pretty thorough job (repeated numerous times)at line and context editing.  I grow as a writer each time they supply feedback and each time I give feedback.  It would have taken me years of personal distance to be able to give that kind of critique myself.  I don't want to imagine waiting five years to be able to look at my own work with the necessary distance and increased knowledge in editing, drafting, plotting, etc. needed to actually see what needs to be improved.  That's five years of embarrassment of having my work out there that I would get all in one fell swoop that could have been avoided by getting straight feedback from another writer or a professional editor when the work was "finished."

So sure a writer writes, but a WRITER GETS FEEDBACK is even more important.  I published my first book with minimal feedback (those two family members).  It wasn't long before I had a nagging feeling that perhaps I had overlooked aspects of the story or not edited as well as I thought (even an English teacher needs an editor, nobody can look at their own work without bias, certainly not after reading it one hundred times).  So I took it off publication, sent it to a writer friend (she sent me hers as well) and we traded feedback.  I am still working on it and hope by Christmas to have it back published again.

All this post really is saying is writers need feedback.

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