Apr 24, 2012

A to Z - Understanding

First, I would love if you could swing by Ninjas Write and Thinking Through Our Fingers - I'm blogging at both today :)

One of the essential elements of writing is feedback.  We want it, right?  People who read our books, point out where it is awesome, where it needs some improvement.  We all know it is part of the process.  

But it gets tricky after that.  What if the person who reads it says that their least favorite part was the part you loved to write?  What if they start with "I'm so impressed you wrote a whole book - it must have been hard work?"  What if you realize they are sugar coating everything because they know what they need to tell you isn't what you want to hear?

What if this comes from an agent?  Editor?  

What we have to remember is that, until the cover is on and in a package outside our house, we can do what needs to be done to be received how we want it received.  

What we really need to remember is that, when someone is giving us feedback, good or bad, they are sharing their opinions, thoughts and generally have taken the time out to help us.  Ours is not the option to get defensive, tell them they just don't understand what good literature reads like, or anything like that.  Ours is to say just two words.

Thank you.  

Yes, they may be two of the hardest words to say sometimes, and they sometimes can be followed up with questions to see what we can improve.  But remember, you haven't loved every book you've read, every movie you've watched, every song you've heard.  And when (yes, I said when) our books have covers on them, there are going to be people who say things that may not be all love and praise.

Just like you.

How have you steadied yourself to understand better when reviews and feedback aren't quite what you wanted them to be?


15 comments :

S.P. Bowers said...

I always remind myself that A. I'm in charge, it's my book and I dont' have to take their suggestions. This helps to relieve the dissapointment and puts me back in a position where I feel I have control. Then I can look at their comments objectively (instead of being upset) and more often then not can see the merit in that feedback. B. I know the feedback is to make my book better. I want my book to be as strong as possible so it will jump out of the slush pile and say LOVE ME to some agent.

Lynn Proctor said...

it has to be very hard--i don't know how i would deal with it

elizabeth seckman said...

I love input. I hate when the input is contradictory. That's when it gets frustrating. I guess then, a writer has to use their own judgment.

Danielle B. said...

It depends on who is giving me the feedback. I can handle it from a stranger better than I can a friend or family member.

Kate said...

I always prefer an honest opinion to a just-trying-to-be-nice one. I don't like negative feedback (who does) but I can take it, I have a tendency to over analyse everything but I think its always for the better, if we don't know what our failings are then how can we improve them?

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

I keep trying to thicken my skin and remind myself of all this stuff before I self-pub my book very soon.

Cassie Mae said...

I know how much time it takes to read a book, let alone make notes all the way through it. Even if I disagree, I'm thankful alone for their time. So I always make sure I thank that person. :)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I am always grateful if someone has taken the time to read and make thoughtful comments, even if I end up not agreeing. But I think it's important to try not to react right away, because your first inclination is always defensive because you have worked so hard on this. Just listen, take it in, ask clarifying questions, and then sit with it for a while until you can look at their advice more objectively. Often they're right. Things that seem so obvious to you because your whole book is perfectly pictured in your head may be really obscure or hard to follow or not make sense to someone coming in with no background knowledge or preconceptions. Yes. Always thank you!

J. A. Bennett said...

I've had to learn to get a thicker skin, but I've also learned that not every suggestion is going to be good for my book. :)

Angela Cothran said...

I'm generally more open to criticism from people I respect. But I try and find the truth in every critique.

Tara Tyler said...

love the cartoon! that space in the middle is so small!
yes, say thank you, then you can digest & if it still bothers you then you can commiserate with blog/writer friends!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's tough when someone doesn't like what you wrote, but if they explain why, then you can make it better. (Or the next one better.)

Andrew Leon said...

But what if it's some other book they're talking about? Then is it okay to tell them they don't know what good literature reads like?
:P

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think if you know the feedback is coming from someone you trust, it's easier to take and put to use.

Nicole said...

I always try to take it to heart, because it gives me great insight into how my readers are understanding, feeling and interacting with my story and my characters.