Let Others Read Your Writing (for Feedback)

Let Others Read Your Writing (for Feedback)

Let other read your work.

As a famous person (good ol’ Ben Franklin) once said: What’s the use of a sundial in the shade? (Think about that for a minute.)

It means if you have talents, don’t hide them away. Get them out in the sunlight!

As a writer, this means letting a few other people read what you write. Maybe sharing a story or a poem with a friend. Maybe with a teacher.

For some shy writers, yes, it’s hard to do. Especially the first few times. Maybe you’re thinking, you want it to be perfect first, right?

(Or you’re be afraid you’ll be criticized. OMG, what a horrible thought – they don’t like it! Scream of terror!)

But guess what? If a work isn’t perfect yet (maybe it’s in okay shape – not a first draft! – but isn’t “perfect” yet) that’s an ideal time to show it to a good, trusted reader for feedback.

How do you choose a good reader? Pick someone who likes to read, maybe likes to write. But mostly, find someone you think might be good at seeing both the good and the bad . . . and helping you see it, too.

You don’t want flattery (“Oh, it’s so perfect! I LOVED every word!”). Maybe you do want that, but it is really helpful?

And you don’t want just: “Why’d you write something that stupid!!” (Not really helpful, either.)

A good reader talks about specifics: what worked (in their opinion) and what didn’t.

And maybe you need to prompt them.
Ask what specific things that person liked (and why!).
Ask what specific things they didn’t like (and why!).

Then . . . take whatever is useful. For you and your writing. And forget the rest.

You’re not looking for a grade, or a prize. You’re looking for something you can use.

Useful feedback will point to something specific that maybe could be handled differently. Or asks why you chose to do something? in a way that makes you think twice: Hmmm. . . Why did I do that? Did I do it on purpose? Is it doing what I want? Or is it working in my head . . . but not when it’s read by someone else . . . who doesn’t get what I was trying to say?

When you hear criticism or suggestions:

THREE OPTIONS

  1. Accept the feedback. Fix it. Make it better.
  2. Ignore the feedback. Stick with what you think is best.
  3. Put that story or poem aside and turn to something else for a while.

All these are normal. All are part of being a writer.

So think about sharing a bit of your favorite work. It will make you better. Don’t hide in the shade. Sure, it’s safer.

But that’s not why you write, I’m guessing. It’s because you have interesting ideas and your own voice!

Find that right person for feedback. Let them read a bit of your writing. And if they don’t give helpful feedback, find someone else. Try again. Because learning how to get – and use – feedback from others is part of the path to becoming a better writer.

“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” – Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

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