3 Tips for Dealing with Feedback
By Erin E. M. Hatton
Feedback can be a double-edged sword for a writer.
On the one hand, we can feel very boosted by a great review or (as I was blessed enough to find out) a prestigious award.* But if you’re anything like me all it takes is one negative comment to make you want to pack up the word processor and call it quits.
So we can fall into the trap of always looking for that praise. We can write with that voice always in our heads, speaking all the past hurts and warning against future criticism. And if we do, we will be paralyzed.
Or we can write the truth God’s given us to write. We can write authentically out of the unique soul He’s given each of us. After all, the only praise or criticism that matters is His.
But what do we do with all this feedback? It’s not as if it’s going to stop coming our way. Reviewers are going to review. Editors are going to edit. And—gasp!—publishers and agents are going to reject.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with feedback in a healthy way.
Know which voices matter.
A few years ago I got feedback from a beta-reader that someone else set up for me. He hated my short story. Ripped it to shreds. But as I read between the lines, I realized that, although this was a romance story, he disliked romance and never read it. It’s vitally important that you, as the author, know your audience. Who is most likely to read and enjoy your work? Figure that out, maybe even make up a character sketch like you would for a story. That’s the person who gets to give you feedback on your writing.
Understand the purpose of the feedback.
I’ve heard it said that feedback tells you more about the person giving it than the person receiving it. In other words, if a reader/editor/publisher tells you something about your writing, it is less about you as a person and more about them and their needs. Keeping this in mind can transform how you view praise and criticism. Thinking about why someone said what they said instead of your own feelings can free you up to do the best writing possible.
Look to the One that matters most.
Ultimately none of these voices of praise and criticism matter. If we are writing out of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and developing our talents to the best of our knowledge and ability, then His is the only voice we need to heed. And He’s already said we’re pretty amazing.
*Erin E.M. Hatton was awarded Best Novel – Historical Fiction for Across the Deep in The Word Awards, 2014.
About this Contributor:
Erin E.M. Hatton is the author of Otherworld and Across the Deep, winner of the 2014 Free Publishing Contest for Fiction. She has also authored several short stories and novellas. She graduated from Redeemer University College and lives in Barrie, Ontario with her husband Kevin and four children.
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