How to Receive Feedback

Lots of Creative Writers would like to get feedback on their work, and become frustrated when they get no comments at all. This often leads to the writer deciding not to share anymore, which is a great shame since I wanted the group to be a place where writers good help each other develop their craft. So I decided it would be helpful to provide a few tips and tricks to encourage people to share their work again.

Advertisements

Lots of Creative Writers would like to get feedback on their work, and become frustrated when they get no comments at all. This often leads to the writer deciding not to share anymore, which is a great shame since I wanted the group to be a place where writers could help each other develop their craft. So I decided it would be helpful to provide a few tips and tricks to encourage people to share their work again.

One of the biggest hurdles we have is that members post questions that are far easier to reply to. At the time of writing, the top posts with the most comments include two threads asking people to share their Facebook author pages, a post asking “Why do you write what you write?”, and a member expressing frustration over losing some of their work.

Other examples I’ve seen come up include: “What app do you use to write?”, “What music do you listen to while writing?”, “How do I become a writer?”, and writing prompts that ask for a response in 4 words or less. These posts get a lot of responses, and they tend to overwhelm serious requests for beta-reading and literary critique, knocking them off the page.

They get a lot of responses because they’re easy. So tip number one to getting more responses is simple; make it easy for people to do so. Ask a simple question. Tell your audience exactly what you’re looking for. Not just “tell me what you think”, but “do these characters seem realistic?” or “I’m wondering if the setting is clear”, or something like that. If people know what you want from them, they can answer you more easily.

It would also help to make it easy to read. Keep it short. If you would have to scroll down to see it all as a Facebook post, share a link instead. You can host your writing on Wattpad, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or one of the many other options available. You could even share it via Google Docs or upload it to the groups own file library.

If you don’t want to set up an account at one of those websites, you can just share the paragraph or two you’d like feedback on. You may want to summarise the context in this case so the reader isn’t utterly confused as to what’s going on.

If the reason you don’t want your writing published on a live website is that you’re concerned it would prevent you from getting published, don’t worry, you can always take the story down again before you send out query letters. By then you’ll probably have improved it anyway. If you chose to use an independent publisher (like us) it may not even be a concern. In fact, I’d probably ask you to include a link to the book on your website! 🙂

Enough plugging, let’s get back on topic. When you get feedback, bear in mind that (even if you disagree with it) that it’s well meant. No-one is going to give you feedback again if you complain and respond aggressively to any comments you get. It may well be upsetting to hear that your masterpiece isn’t perfect, but take their advice under advisement anyway.

If they tear it to pieces, don’t despair. Sometimes ideas don’t work the first time out, but with the right feedback from the right person, or the right kind of unrelated inspiration, and you may find yourself with a bestseller. Thank people for their feedback, no matter how much it hurts. Sometimes it may help people to understand what you were going for if you take the time to explain it to them. They might even be able to help you to find a better way to word it.

Remember that the purpose of this group is to help one another improve. The best way to encourage people to leave comments on your work-in-progress, beyond what I’ve already mentioned, is to give them feedback also. Look through the posts from other writers and offer them suggestions. It will dramatically increase the chance they’ll do the same.

To summarise: Keep it short. Make clear what you want. Don’t take the feedback you receive as a personal insult. Be grateful and give back.

Has this article been helpful? Do you have any tips that I missed? What works best for you?

How to Become a Member of the Creative Writers’ Group

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this article is unnecessary. It certainly is for those who have already successfully become members.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this article is unnecessary. It certainly is for those who have already successfully become members. However, there are a lot of people whose membership requests we have had to decline because they don’t answer the three questions correctly, or they only answer one or two of them, or they never answer them at all.

If you’re not a member already, and you’ve stumbled across this blog post due to some happy browsing accident (or because a member sent it to you), allow me to explain what Creative Writers is. Basically, Creative Writers has become a haven for writers that want to help each other become better writers. You can show off their work-in-progress knowing that you’ll get honest feedback (and without being shamed for promoting), and you can also be part of a writing project that I’m excited to be a part of myself, called The Monolith Anthology.

If this sounds like your kind of place, click on the words ‘Creative Writers‘. This will take you to a Facebook page. Providing you’re already on Facebook, you should see the word ‘Join’ underneath the header image.

Once you’ve hit ‘Join’, you’ll be prompted to answer three questions that we’ve carefully designed to filter out those that won’t fit our growing and supportive community. These questions are as follows, along with the simple answers that would get you accepted:

Accepted1

If you think you would struggle to truthfully answer these three questions with ‘yes’, then you probably won’t fit in. However, let me clarify my meaning and intent behind each question to see if you still feel the same afterwards.

Regarding the first question, I absolutely agree that, as adult writers, we should be able to handle any word we see with maturity and reason. I agree that we should be able to use any word we wish without having to worry about offending and being censored by fellow writers. However, there are many people with social anxiety, depression, PTSD and similar psychological trauma that might find your words trigger memories of a painful or traumatic nature.

There are also some young authors in the group. Some as young as 12 and 15 that may not be comfortable with graphic violence or sexual content. For their sakes please begin your post with a content warning and keep anything too mature for them below the ‘read more’ line. Even if you don’t feel responsible for the psychological responses of adults, please respect the innocence of the younger Creative Writers.

Regarding the ban on religious and political topics. This is a group for discussing fiction. There are some who believe very strongly that their religious and political beliefs are fact. We have no need to discuss facts in a fiction group. Feel free to discuss fictional governments and gods openly. In fact, as long as you’re okay with your beliefs being discussed and critiqued as if they were fiction, go ahead. Most people are not. If you want a group for religious or political debate, this is not the one.

The last question is the easiest and it’s there to make sure new members are aware that we expect them to actively participate in group discussions. Offer advice and suggestions to those who are struggling, ask for feedback and motivation from the group, and generally help to make the group a friendly, helpful and encouraging place. If you’d rather ‘tell it like I see it’, you probably don’t belong.

Hopefully, we’re all on the same page now and that you’re able to reply in the affirmative without being dishonest with yourself. Please do make certain you answer all three questions. Answering only two of them, even if you answer both with yes, will get you rejected. You would also be rejected for doing what this guy did:

Declined1

Not only does he only respond to only one question, but he also doesn’t actually answer the question. If you recognise this as your attempt to access the group, please try again!

By the way, if you have hit ‘Join’ and never received the three questions, please try again. We decline all requests 6 hours old or more if they don’t answer the questions, but we’d more than willing to help you if you’re having technical difficulties. If after trying to join again you still don’t get the questions, contact any of the group admins. We can ask you the questions manually! Sorry, there is no way to get around them. 😉

See you in the group 🙂