There’s nothing as effective as harsh feedback for shutting down the writing machine. Our sensitive egos are made even more vulnerable when our words are read by another, and it requires some courage to go public even under the best of circumstances. When the feedback is sharp and negative; Ouch!
On the one hand, writers need people to tell them what does and doesn’t work so they can improve. There is a lot of intelligence lurking about in the outside world, and it helps the writing to tap into it. On the other hand, not everyone is skilled at giving feedback, whether it’s through their lack of understanding, poor social skills or unresolved issues with their own writing.
Everyone has a different tolerance for the criticism process, and it’s important to know what works for you, so you can limit the odds that the experience will shut you down. Choose the right reader to show your work to – someone whowill have something helpful to say, and will say it in a way that doesn’t obliterate your will to write.
Proceed gradually if you are trying to get used to hearing responses to your work. Tell people exactly what type of feedback you are looking for, perhaps asking for only positive responses initially. This helps them respond in a helpful way and decreases the chances that they will give extensive, unsolicited ‘constructive criticism’ before you are ready to hear it.
Over time, a new relationship can be developed with the feedback process that allows you to tolerate more input along the way without the trauma. The goal is to get to where your focus is more on doing whatever will help the writing, and less on how to protect your ego.