This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Wading through Feedback on Your Writing


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The other day I sent out a book blurb for feedback on a couple of writing loops I'm on. In good faith, several writers sent back some comments and a couple tried to reword everything. I went through all their suggestions and realized I couldn't go with what each person said. Some comments contradicted others, and a few changes didn't sound any better than what I'd already written, and some suggestions were better. If I had been a new writer, I would have thrown up my hands in eternal confusion.

I took a day or took to evaluate the plot points that needed to be on the back cover blurb, and I realized that some of the motivational questions people were asking didn't need to be answered on the back cover. It stirred the interest I wanted to pique and that is the purpose for the back cover copy. I prayed about it and with patience decided what suggestions I wanted to keep and which ones I needed to ignore.


This is part of writing. Yes, what I had written would have worked--and in my humble opinion--it was good. But what I was after--was to make it better. My friends helped me do that, but first I had to wade through the varying opinions on how to make that happen. When you ask for opinions, that's exactly what you'll get, a wide range of varying ideas and thoughts that are as different as day and night, and very subjective.

I now have a great back cover blurb--or what I think is great. It wouldn't work for everyone, but I'm hoping it will work for those who have similar tastes as me. I believe these individuals will eventually become my core readers--the ones who like most of what I write--because we have the same interests and tastes. And as a result, I'm very thankful to my writing friends who took the time out of their busy schedules to give me suggestions. That is what these writing loops are for--to help each other.

What about you? Have you ever asked for help on something and the help you received seemed overwheing or confusing? How did you wade your way through it?

9 comments:

Yes, I've gone the same route, and come out in the same place. Some input is wonderful, some is okay, some is just plain wrong. And different people weigh in right sometimes, wrong sometimes. It's a good lesson to me--not all my suggestions to other writers (I'm in a writer's group) are going to be gold. Some are just--tin. But getting feedback is good, and it keeps me from feeling alone out here in Valerie-land. Thanks for the blog!

I remember joining the ACFW large critique group and got 12 crits on my first chapter. That's a lot of feedback to process so I printed out a hard copy of the chapter and marked each suggestion on it. Then, with ALL of the comments in one document, I could weed through them and make my decisions - before ever touching my computer file.

It's hard to ignore some suggestions but I'm the author and this is MY story to tell. As long as I have a good reason why I should do it my way. :)

I can't really recall asking for help and being overwhelmed or confused, unless it was for something like math. You should consider yourself fortunate (and I'm sure you do)that you have so many readers who are ready to offer their help when you request it.

Since I have started my blog I have repeatedly asked for suggestions to help me improve what I do. I've gotten many wonderful comments and discussions, which is wonderful and something I want. But I also want some critique and suggestions about my writing. I have gotten one for which I am very grateful and to which I took heed. That was from you, Jennifer, early on in my first weeks you suggested about creating a blog schedule, which I gradually started doing, and now have formally instituted and it is working very well.

I have some regular readers who return to particular days and people who have indicated what upcoming posts they are looking forward to. I have given you credit for this idea more than once on my blog posts. Other bloggers who have read about my intent, which I got from you, have indicated they might try the same approach on their blogs.

So there you go, your proselytizing has borne fruit and I am deeply indebted to you for your help. Thank you for taking your time to help a novice blogger to improve.

Thanks for stopping by my blog (and for the comment and support). I really enjoyed this post. There is definitely a risk when it comes to critiques of getting too much information. Thats where your job as a writer comes in--to sort through it and pick what works for you and disregard the rest. In the end, your opinion is the one that matters most.

Thanks for checking out my blog... I love your website. I hope it all turns out well. I know it must be hard getting critiques (both positive and negative). Take the feedback as a positive thing. As long as you gained something out it, it must have helped in some sort of way. All in all I'm sure you hard work has not gone unnoticed.

Thanks for checking out my blog... I love your website. I hope it all turns out well. I know it must be hard getting critiques (both positive and negative). Take the feedback as a positive thing. As long as you gained something out it, it must have helped in some sort of way. All in all I'm sure you hard work has not gone unnoticed.

Valerie, It's hard to weed out the comments that will take us down the wrong road. But unfortunately, bad advice exists and there's plenty out there--especially where people mean better. We know they mean well. That's why it is so hard to discard and ignore.

Candee, I think 12 is a bit much. I would have probably cut it to six, but that's just me--especially if some of them were basically saying the same thing.

And yes, it is YOUR story, so always go by what you feel led to write. I even had to sever my relationship with an agent b/c of this. And looking back, as painful as it was, I made the right decision.

Arlee,

I'm glad my post was helpful to you. I would recommend joining a critique group. It might help you with the feedback you're seeking.