feedback

3 Sep

Asking for feedback on creative projects is so nerve-wracking for me.

A.) I always feel like I’m bothering whoever I am asking. When I spoke about this with Randall, who I recently asked to look over some recent writing of mine, we agreed that, in reality, it’s nice to get someone else’s project in your inbox to look over because it gives you a valid excuse to step away from your own. We joked about what horrible parents we are to our “babies” – the projects we’re working on. Everyone knows I’m a horrible blogmom, for example. But what you didn’t know (until now) is that I’m also a horrible storyparent. I get ideas and I write a few pages and then I kind of just drop it. Sometimes I make my way back to it eventually, but mostly my hard drive is full of just-started stories and incomplete outlines. This is another reason it’s nice to get someone else’s work to look over – it makes you feel like you’re doing something useful, instead of just, you know, NOT writing like normal.

B.) Well, it’s feedback. So, you know, you have to take the good with the bad. When you ask for feedback on a project, you’re basically asking someone to tell you what’s wrong with it. I don’t want anyone to “go easy” on me with the criticism, because if you sugar-coat everything it’s hard to be truly constructive. But, at the same time, once I’ve solicited feedback I just kind of go into this full-body wince while I wait for the response. It feels like when you are expecting to get smacked.

C.) Then I always doubt when I should ask. My initial inclination is just to ask when I feel like I need it, which seems to make sense, on the surface. But sometimes that happens quite early, when there’s not much material, and then it can be quite discouraging if someone says something really damaging to your ideas about your project (intentionally or, as is more often the case, not). When your “baby” is so young you kind of wonder, should I be protecting and sheltering it right now instead of tossing it into the sea to see if it sinks or swims? But if you don’t let anyone read the damn thing, then you can’t really get anywhere.

I content myself with asking one of the few people I know who has a similar process, who has appreciated my work in the past, and has always been honest with me. Somehow, if I just ask one person to look it over it feels safer, less intrusive, and so far, that has been what works for me.

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