Feedback: Where to Get It, How to Use It

by Jennifer Blanchard

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If you want to become a better writer, there’s one thing that will always help you no matter what: getting feedback. Feedback allows you to learn what you’re doing right and what you need to work on.

In fact, the right kind of feedback can help you make your writing better than you ever thought you could.

Where To Find Feedback

There are many places you can get feedback on your writing:

  • Writers groups–Almost every community has a writers group. These groups are very welcoming and can also be good feedback providers. Just be forewarned, not every person in a writers group will be a professional writer, so you not always get much feedback you can use.
  • Fiction writing class–One aspect of most fiction writing classes is critiquing sessions where students read each others’ work and comment on it. Once again, helpful, but use the feedback with caution.
  • Friends who are writers–It’s best to ask your friends who are writers to review your work, rather than your non-writer friends because other writers understand what a piece of writing needs in order to work. That means the feedback will be more useful.
  • A writing teacher–Many writing teachers have MFAs in Creative Writing and know how to provide awesome constructive criticism. If this is an option for you, use it.
  • An editor–For those writers who get paid to write (or those who pay to have an editor), an editor can provide the kind of feedback that will make your work sellable.

A word of warning, you may want to steer clear of your family or good friends. While these people will give you good feedback, they’ll probably only tell you the positive stuff, which is great, but not always useful. You need unbiased, constructive feedback in order to improve.

When you need support or motivation to keep going, that’s when you turn to friends and family.

How To Use the Feedback You Get

Once you have some feedback, here’s how you can use it to improve your writing:

  • Use all of the comments you receive–If you find everything said about your piece of writing is necessary to make it better, then  use all the comments.
  • Use some of the comments you receive–If there were some comments your feedback providers made that didn’t quite jive with your idea for the piece of writing, don’t use the feedback. Only use the comments that fit with where you’re headed.
  • Remember that It’s Your Choice–At the end of the day, you need to be happy with the writing. And if you use everyone’s feedback–even the stuff you don’t agree with–you may end up resenting the final product. So remember that it’s your choice and only use the feedback that you agree with.

How do you use feedback to improve your writing?

Today’s Challenge: Ask someone to review a piece of your writing and provide some feedback. Be sure the person fits the traits described above. Then make a plan to incorporate the feedback you agree with into the piece.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers, a blog that offers guidance for writers who struggle to get started. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits challenge.

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