Friday, February 29, 2008

The Value of Feedback

Writing Tip of the Day: Feb. 29, 2008
When you receive critical advice or feedback about your writing,
learn to evaluate it then follow your instincts.

This prompt immediately reminded me of Final Draft, a group of writers I helped bring together several years ago. We met on a monthly basis in the cafe of a local bookstore to share ideas, information on publication, contests and/or seminars, practice quick word or journal exercises, and set attainable monthly goals. I even hosted a one day workshop at a branch of the county public library.

Part of each meeting involved either an individual handing out a piece (a work in progress) to be reviewed or collecting already critiqued copies. When reviewing input, especially the more 'critical advise,' of five or six people, I always passed along the following guideline:

Say one person found no value to the cat in the storyline. She says something like, 'Ditch the cat. It serves no real purpose and is distracting,' and another says, 'I loved the cat!' Okay. The cat stays. But, if I four or five people commented on the lack of any interest, than I suppose I need to reconsider my storyline. If I still believe the cat is integral, than I obviously need to do a better job of defining why, and what I took for granted as being understood, is still in my mind only and in dire need of being clarified.

I would also remind that any one person's comment comes from their perspective and experience or education. Something to consider invaluable if we are to grow and succeed. As writers, we are responsible for our words and how they are conveyed. Especially if we wish ourselves to be understood.