Positive feedback is all good and well, but negative feedback can tell a lot more about what is/isn’t working in your story.
(Scroll down for the tl;dr)
Some negative feedback (“your face stinks, and so does this story!”) is useless. But a lot of so-called negative feedback is actually very helpful.
So before you dismiss negative feedback as an affront to who you are, here are some tips to receive this type of feedback with grace.
Don’t Take it Personally
The person providing feedback is speaking about your story, not you as a person. They are providing feedback on something you created. That’s all.
And something you created can be improved upon.
Constructive feedback, even if it’s not all positive, is all about helping you craft a better story, not about hurting your feelings. It’s not about attacking you. The story is a separate thing from you, and that’s what they are commenting on.
DO Take it Personally (In a Way)
Knowing where you are right now as a writer can show you where you can go– the places where you can improve– even if it isn’t a personal commentary on you.
If your writing falls flat, it falls flat now. It doesn’t mean it will fall flat forever.
Take it personally in a way that makes you ask yourself, “What can I do to improve as a writer?” If someone says all your dialogue sounds the same, take that as a personal cue to work on improving the voices of your characters.
Hold Back on Knee-Jerk Reactions
Try not to reply instantly to negative feedback or a negative review. That is a sign of a knee-jerk reaction. When you spill what’s in your heart right away, the outcome can be quite emotional… and embarrassing.
Because, hey, sometimes negative feedback hurts– initially.
Take time to think about the feedback. I guarantee that 9 times out of 10 you’ll find a grain of truth in the feedback, and you’ll be able to use that to improve your story. But not if you’re crafting an emotional paragraph-long response.
Hold Back on Excuses
Excuses are also knee-jerk reactions~ just our way of protecting the work we just spent so much time on. But excuses are like worries. Useless.
Your reader wants to read a good story. Period.
Readers don’t care what excuses you have for writing a story that just doesn’t work for them. They are providing negative feedback as a nugget of wisdom that will help you along the way, not to hear your life’s story. They have their own life’s story to worry about.
My biggest advice for learning how to take negative feedback is to put your work out there~ beyond your family and friends.
This will help you grow thicker skin. This will help you see repetitive feedback– for example, if you most often hear “all the characters sound the same,” then you need to work on dialogue.
Yeah, I’ve gotten the “your face stinks” type of feedback, and the “this is great!” feedback too. But the one type of feedback that has helped me the most in this journey is the honest negative feedback.
Read it. Accept it. Use it!
🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜
Don’t take it personal.
Take time to consider the feedback– use it to improve.
READERS DON’T WANT EXCUSES.
Show your writing to more than just your mom 😉