Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Feedback: Problems and Solutions

I've recently come across some paid-for feedback I'd mislaid a few years ago. I'm pretty certain I mislaid it because I was so dismissive of the comments - they seemed to have made so many daft comments, what did they know?

But a few years have passed and I'm now less emotionally attached to the work - actually, I'd forgotten about those pieces. Reading them through, plus the feedback I can see that - despite my negative attitude at the time - ahem, they were right. They weren't works of genius. There were more than a few flaws.

Now, because I was so dismissive - which was could be seen as another term for defensive - I didn't recognise that there was quite a lot of good advice in that feedback. In fact, had only I been open, there were rather a lot of things I could have taken on board. My mistake.

But what I wasn't mistaken about were their solutions to the problems. The problems were there all right - and now I can see them - but their solutions don't work. At least, they don't work for me, they didn't then and they don't now. The unsuitable solutions gave me the ammunition I wanted to dismiss their comments. But, with hindsight (always so handy) I can now see that the analysis of the problems is accurate.

There are two stages to feedback: analysis of the problems and suggestions for solutions. If the solutions are wrong for you, you don't have to act on them. But to use them as reasons to dismiss all of the feedback, well, that's wasting an opportunity.


Diandra said...

Although it can be difficult to accept, I love getting feedback. Of course, like every writer, I prefer the "Oh, that's so brilliant" kind of feedback (which is rare *sigh*), but the other kind is great as well. To me it means that someone deemed my writing worthy of improvement - and since I've got the poorest of memory, I can read a one-wee-old story as if it had been written by somebody else, and see all the ways it needs improvement. ^^

(If I read an older story and still like it, I know it's pretty good. But that's a rather exotic reaction to my own writing.)

Sarah Duncan said...

Yup, I like the 'this is so brilliant' feedback too and I def don't get enough of it. I find it really hard to judge my own work - I get pickier and pickier the more I write.