On Giving and Receiving Feedback

Writing is a personal and introspective process. To share with another what we wrote is to risk. Some of us are more hidden than others, some of us tolerate risk better than others. When you critique someone's work you don't know where on this continuum the writer stands.

In order to offer feedback, one needs to be prepared. First you must respect the writer. He (or she) put his soul into the work and probably cares about it more than he thinks he should.

Secondly, you must respect opinions, tastes and ways of navigating the world that differ from your personal preferences.

This respect for the writer leads to understanding the writer. Now you are ready to offer feedback.

1. First of all, tell the writer what works in her story. What did you like? What moved you, intrigued you, made you think, made you feel? Where does the writer's strengths lie? In description, humor, drama, dialog?

In my 14 years of teaching creative writing, I have noticed that writers grow more from focusing on developing their strengths than trying to fix their weaknesses. This does not mean that we should pretend that writing weaknesses do not exist. When the strengths expand, however, they crowd out the weaknesses. The more one writes, the more one can intuitively fix the writing up as she goes along.

2. Do you feel that something essential is missing? What do you wish was in the story?

3. Technical assistance: Were there parts that you didn't understand?

Try to critique your own work also, following these guidelines.

To receive feedback also takes some preparation. Were you appreciated? Misunderstood? Did they find the one spot that you knew was weak, but you told yourself no one would ever notice? Was the part you loved the best the part they thought should be eliminated? There are two important points to remember:

1. Without honest feedback from others, how will you grow and improve as a writer?

2. Don't give feedback-givers power over your writing, your self image and your emotions. Whether to accept their points and make actual changes based on them, is always Your decision.

If you find that feedback from others discourages you from writing, then stop seeking out feedback.

Esther Susan Heller is the director of The Jewish Writing Institue which offers email courses in writing, including poetry, comedy, creative nonfiction and fiction. She is a freelance editor creative writing teacher and magazine feature writer. Visit her website: http://www.jewishwriting.com/

In The News:

pen paper and inkwell

cat break through

About Writing

Here's everything I know about improving your writing, publishing it... Read More

Ten Tips To Get Started Writing Your Book

You are far more likely to successfully write and publish... Read More

Apotheosis - the Seminal Insight of the Hero for Screenwriting

Every hero has a seminal insight - the apotheosis. Once... Read More

Money Trails for Writers

I'm willing to bet that quite a number of you... Read More

Making Money from Freelance Writing

Making Money from Freelance WritingIt's the question that every aspiring... Read More

The Daily Rite

If you want to be a writer, then you must... Read More

Tips for First Time Authors : 2 Easy Steps to Make Your First Book a Success

Congratulations on writing your first book. That is quite an... Read More

Taming The Book Proposal

Taming the Book Proposal: The BasicsOh, that most maddening of... Read More

3 Tips to Achieve Your Writing Goals

1. Make your goals achievable.By achievable, we mean realistic and... Read More

Focusing Your Reading and Finding Ideas

Many experts recommend reading as a way to get ideas,... Read More

Become the Writer You Always Dreamed of Being

So you want to be a writer, except you don't... Read More

Gut Check: Quitting Your Full-time Job for Your Freelance Career

It's 6:00 p.m. You're dead tired, but instead of an... Read More

Mama Dont Allow No Fighting in Your Writing

When you sit down to write a steamy romance, a... Read More

The Practice of Writing

Virgil, the great Roman poet, wrote "Practice and thought might... Read More

Six Tips for Creating More Lifelike Story Characters

Working on my first humorous novel, I started with a... Read More

The Arrogant Writer: Five Ways To Nurture and Defend Your Muse

Arrogance has a bad rap. We think of arrogant people... Read More

A Plan

All writers should use a plan whether written or reflected.... Read More

Arouse Your Short Story And See It Published

Are you ready to abandon your short stories? Before you... Read More

Teachers Should Write, During Their Summers

Before I became a teacher, I was a sports writer.... Read More


How many of you take the time to really write... Read More

Writing Without Style

Style manuals are all well and good, and in fact,... Read More

Get Published: The Nuts and Bolts of Good English, and How to Impress a Publisher (1)

Not all writers write good grammar. That's a fact. It's... Read More

Writing - Copyrights and Trademarks Protect You

When most people consider writing a book, they don't think... Read More

Proof Positive: the importance of proofreading

Last week I was having a quick browse on eBay... Read More

Trying Too Hard

If you dread the thought of writing, if you fear... Read More

What is Screenwriting?

Simply put, it is the art of writing scripts for... Read More

Screenwriting, Screenplays, Screenwriters - Writing a Screenplay Using Structure

Effective screenwriting relies on the good understanding and use of... Read More

Getting Past The Shoulds To Write

During the past few months I have received many questions... Read More

Top Seven Mistakes Writers Make and What to Do About Them

Writers often get stuck because they make assumptions about writing,... Read More

Overcome Writers Block with Snake Dancing

Writer's block! Even columnist Dave Berry has it. He admits... Read More

Conflict - How To Keep Your Readers Turning Pages

Some writers are just too kind.They hate to put their... Read More

Writing Made Them Rich #4: Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho was born on August 24th 1947 in Rio... Read More

Where to Look for Your Next Project when You?re Writing for Profit

When my first book "Starting Your Own Business" was published... Read More