Writing can be a downright scary process. Whether you're writing a book or an article, you are opening your ideas to an audience and allowing them to engage with - and maybe criticize - your work.
For this reason, writers often hold their content close and only allow others to read it when it feels more polished and complete.
The downside to keeping your ideas and writing private lies in losing out on valuable feedback if you don't share early and with the right people. Without early feedback, you might find that entire chapters of your book need to be reworked because you hadn't thought through a concept completely. Now you'll need to spend as much time correcting your mistake as you did writing the initial draft.
Once you've started opening up, beware the temptation to listen to everyone's feedback equally. Recognize that feedback can come in many forms, and if you take all suggestions to heart, your own voice and message may get lost.
When you're ready to dive into your next writing project, keep the following ideas in mind to ensure that you're getting the right kind of feedback before it's too late.
Who You Want to Share Your Content With
It's a common inclination to want to share any new project with the people who we're closest to in life, whether that's a spouse, a proud parent, or a friend.
They're also the most likely to shower us with praise, whether or not it's warranted.
As often as people advise avoiding this route at all costs, it can have its benefits in certain situations. Dad may not know the ins-and-outs of your topic, but he may be one of your biggest supporters and can give the encouragement you need to push past writer's block or fear.
Just remember that if you're sharing your writing with someone because you're looking for support, it's okay to tune out their ancillary feedback.
Who You Need to Share Your Content With
When you start a writing project, develop a list of people whose opinions you trust and who know your content well. This could include colleagues, peers, mentors, or experienced editors.
Unlike going to Dad for support, you need some people who will tell it to you straight. Those who understand your goals and topic are better equipped to evaluate your ideas, challenge them, ask thought-provoking questions, and ultimately save you time and effort during the revision process.
Authors who work with an editor who is familiar with their field throughout the outlining and brainstorming process have a clearer understanding of their path forward and can finish writing more quickly. They are also less likely to be derailed later when they start promoting the book and inevitably receive critical feedback.
What to Do With the Feedback
When you get early feedback, be grateful and take the time to listen to it, no matter where it comes from. Someone who shares their ideas with you is engaged, and often it also means that they're invested in your success.
That said, remember the kinds of feedback you're seeking. Does the feedback help propel you forward? Did it unlock a different angle you hadn't considered yet?
Mentally classify that feedback to help avoid spending too much time on unnecessary overthinking and self-criticism.
Work through any feedback that challenged you. If possible, schedule time with the person who brought that to you to turn their ideas over at a deeper level and weigh the possibility of integrating their points into your work.
Consider feedback as an ongoing, natural part of being a creator. Once your ideas go public, you'll receive it whether or not you ask for it.
With these tips you'll learn to embrace early feedback in all its forms and, more importantly, to manage it in a way that is beneficial to you.