Feb 6 / Anna Adami

Is your work ready for feedback?

Feedback from others can help us improve our work, but only when we're ready for it. I like to emphasize this to my coaching clients, because many of them are struggling to feel confident in their voice. 

When we're in the weeds of our writing, we have blind spots. Fresh eyes can see what we can't. Other people's expertise can compliment and complicate our own. 

Feedback at the wrong time, however, can erode our vision. It can chip away at our confidence. It can make us lose sight of the impulse that called us to create in the first place. 

Throughout my writing life, I've learned:

  • Not all feedback thoughtfully considers the artist or writer's vision 
  • Often, people give feedback based on personal taste, which might completely differ from the artist or writer 
  • It's important to find voices that value and understand your artistic voice, even when it's still in development
  • People often read in-progress work as a finished product, not as a nebulous emergence 
  • Sometimes work isn't ready for feedback

How do we know when our work is ready for feedback? 

I'm usually ready to share if... 

  • I feel grounded in my vision for the piece. 
  • I need someone else's perspective to see what I can't; to help refine my choices in form, diction, POV, etc. to grow closer to my vision 
  • I need to know if I'm accomplishing my aim. Are my choices working? 
  • I feel open to feedback, not resistant or combative towards it 
  • I'm confident in my work and know that feedback isn't an attack on my skill as a writer

I'm not ready for feedback when...

  • I don't know where my piece is going 
  • I'm feeling fragile or self-critical about my skill, not safe within my body
  • I'm not sure why I'm making the choices I am yet 
  • My piece is a young, impressionable child and I want to protect its unique, precious soul from peer pressure 
  • My piece is magical and mysterious still and feedback would try to define what isn't ready to be defined

Every creative person is different. 

The circumstances that make me feel ready for critique might be different than yours. That's okay. 

What I want to emphasize here is that we don't have to be ready to share all the time. Developing a relationship with our work means nurturing and protecting it (and us) in ways that will help it (and us) flourish. 

Before we show our work to others, we can ask ourselves is it time? Will this person help me refine my vision or steer me towards theirs? What does the work need from me now? 

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