February 16, 2009-Feedback

Picture the most obnoxious person you know. The one who exasperates you and puts dangerous words on the tip of your tongue. If you will, you can learn something from that person–even beyond things you want to avoid doing because of his bad example. It takes more maturity than most people have, but it is possible to learn helpful things from the most unhelpful person. If not, why did God put that person in your life?

In my book Two Sides to Everything Josh fleshes out this principle. That protagonist has been challenging this author ever since he came to life on the pages of my book. It isn’t easy to learn from people with flagrant flaws who express criticism in the least sensitive ways. It means listening to learn, weighing thoughts before dismissing them, and viewing things fairly from another perspective. Skills like that are quickly becoming a dying art, yet how we need them!

When we put our passions into print, each manuscript can become a precious child, an extension of ourselves. It hurts to see it criticized. Our friends know enough to defend its good qualities and overlook the bad. This makes us feel good about ourselves, but it doesn’t improve our writing. We need to treasure the true friends who will kindly offer constructive criticism.

Imagine the editor who reads manuscripts all day long, and has to reject most of them. Far from being the meanie we make her out to be, she must quickly tire of returning standard rejection slips which she knows will disappoint writers and ruin their day. Overworked and barely keeping up with her schedule, she can hardly do more. On occasion she takes the time to offer a few very helpful words. If the writer bristles at the criticism, the editor will take the easy way out next time and just send the standard letter. But the wise writer will treasure knowledgable criticism and learn from it.

We usually learn more from criticism than praise, but happily, we can profit from positive feedback as well as negative when it is specific enough to give clear direction.

I enjoy going to most websites anonymously. I don’t like to log-in and I seldom leave comments. I want to click on the interesting bits, scan the information quickly, and get on with my life. My website if free for anyone to read. You are not obligated to leave comments–polite or otherwise. But I would be glad for any constructive feedback you have to give in these areas:

  • What writing topics would you like to to discuss in future articles?
  • Are there items in my articles that you would like me to explain further?
  • Are you working toward writing for publication, but are hung up somewhere in the process and don’t know how to proceed?

I can’t promise to answer all your questions, but if I know what your questions are I can at least try.

In the meantime my prayer for myself and all of us is that we will learn to profit from constructive criticism and look for ways to encourage each other with positive feedback.

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