Getting early feedback on your writing: Turning good into great
Sharing your writing in its early forms can cause anxiety. I liken it to going to a middle school dance. It seems like a good idea, but it is laced with a fear of rejection and insecurity.
Developing positive habits early in your writing career, however, are important. Seeking feedback makes writers better and more confident. Here are six ideas to help move you toward embracing the valuable feedback loop:
- Start small. If sharing your writing makes you break into a cold sweat, start with maybe just one or two people. When you start to find value, your list can expand.
- Be specific. When you give someone a piece of writing to review, tell them what you want to concentrate on. The content? The mechanics? The flow of the material? One suggestion is to give them a specific question to focus on. You might then be able to ask about other items after the initial question is answered.
- Perfect is too late. Don’t delay getting feedback until you think it the piece is flawless. Early feedback will assist you with bigger issues such as structure or flow. Also, if you wait to get feedback until you think it is perfect, you may be less likely to embrace any suggestions.
- Develop a network or writing group. Find a group of like-minded writers to share with. Best would be if everyone shared their own writing, as then everyone would feel equally vulnerable. The group can be virtual. Social media is a good place to look to find writers interested in sharing.
- Get feedback from your audience and those outside the audience. Of course, it is important to find out what your intended readers think. If you are an engineer, get other mid-career engineers to give you feedback not just leaders in the field or your supervisors. Also, consider asking educated readers outside your profession. While they may not understand all the content, they can help point out when things seem bogged down in jargon or get confusing.
- Don’t get offended. Take comments at face value. Don’t take them personal. Try to detach and view each piece of feedback in a vacuum to see if it has merit. Remember, you don’t need to embrace all comments and make changes if they don’t align with your vision of your work.
Feedback can make a good article and great one; while improving its chance of acceptance. Approach sharing with an open mind. And come onto the dance floor. There are lots of like-minded friends out there.
John Bond is a publishing consultant at Riverwinds Consulting. He works with individuals on publishing and writing projects. Schedule an initial complimentary phone call at Publishing Fundamentals. In his career, he has directed the publishing of over 500 book titles and 20,000 journal articles. He is the host of the YouTube channel “Publishing Defined.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.