Most writers spend a lot of time writing alone. Whether it’s in a room with the door shut, in the garden or even in a coffee shop, words are often confined to a notebook or computer screen. A temporary secret.
At some point, unless you’re journalling, words often need to be shared with others.
It’s a bold writer who goes straight from page to publication. Most will seek feedback from friends, family, fellow writers, beta readers or an editor first. Even if you don’t do all of that, at some point, you may be subject to reviewers.
It’s a vulnerable moment.
Those words you’ve poured so much into, have spent so much time on, have come from your heart, are opened to the scrutiny of others.
How wonderful it is when people love your work. They pen words of praise, publish a positive review, recommend it to others.
But not all feedback is positive. Sometimes there are things to work on, misunderstandings, confusion, elements people don’t like.
If the feedback stings, you may need to take a breather and come back to it when you’re feeling stronger. Distance is required to look at it objectively.
When you’re ready, hold the feedback in your hand, considering which bits are useful, will help improve your work and help you grow as a writer. Let the rest go.
But what if someone doesn’t like your work at all? In these moments, I find it helps to remember something about my brother. I love chocolate, everyone I know loves chocolate, and I think it’s one of the most universally loved things. But my brother hates it.
Who hates chocolate? How is that possible?
He hates it because he has his own, unique tastes. No matter how much people tell him how wonderful chocolate is, it’s not how he experiences it. Likewise, someone could write the best book ever, but there will always be someone who doesn’t get it or who doesn’t like it. Think of those people as the chocolate haters. It’s not personal. It’s them.
So take heart. Write for yourself. Write your best. Write for the readers who’ll love your work. Write with good intentions. Then you’re free to take on board constructive feedback, discard the comments that don’t fit or are spoken with malice.
And remember, feedback is opinion. Not everyone shares it.
All that matters is that you love what you’ve written.
Write chocolate and enjoy every minute of it!