I have discovered over the years that feedback on your creative outlet can either make you or break you.
I’m talking about the feedback you get on your drafts, and in this post, I’m talking mainly about writers. If you seek feedback too early or if you’re not quite ready to have your work criticized, (whether or not it may be constructive) this sort of feedback can cause some major creative disruption to your masterpiece.
I’m lucky to have an extremely supportive team around me, and not all of the team are writers. Some are just readers of my drafts who give me their ‘reader’s perspective’. And while they are not qualified as writer (i.e. they haven’t written fictional works of notable length), they do have a unique perspective that I don’t have. They see my work from the outside in.
There are times when I am trying to convey emotions of my characters, but I can’t actually tell if I am or not, because I am so heavily immersed within that character, that I can no longer see the forest through the trees… So to speak. I guess I lose my own critical eye. This is when having other readers can come in awfully handy. But you have to find straight up and honest people, and you have to be thick skinned enough to take on their feedback, and pay attention.
Last week I got a new ‘reader’ for my Urban Fantasy trilogy. This reader is rather particular, and critiques professional historian’s work, so I knew that I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to impress her. And this is exactly the reason why I threw my work under her nose. I knew that either she was going to flatten me like a bus and tell me it was crap, or she was going to give her honest opinion.
I was lucky enough to get her honest opinion. And her honest opinion was that she loved it. She even professed that she is now ‘my biggest fan’. Whoa. I know, right? That’s amazing feedback. The buzz motivated me. The thrill of it! Suddenly I wanted to delve straight in and revise, revise, revise! I knew I could do this.
And it was hilarious, because the next minute, I’m internally freaking out, wondering how the rest of my book could possibly live up to her great expectations.
Silly, isn’t it? What us Creatives do to ourselves. The doubt we can cast on ourselves is astounding. Sometimes we actually need to have a little faith in our ability. We also need to realise that there will be readers who just don’t like our story.
And if we can accept that, then what do we, as Writers or Creatives, need to be afraid of?
I was talking to a friend yesterday who is an amazing sculptural artist, and in a month, he is having his first major exhibit. Needless to say, it’s a logistical nightmare, and what is he freaking out about?
It’s not the fact that he hasn’t finished all the pieces yet.
Not the fact that some of the pieces may not even fit through the doors of the gallery.
Not even the fact that he hasn’t worked out a way to transport sixty odd pieces of artwork there.
No. He is worried about what the people will think of his sculptures and how his pieces make them feel.
Fear is an emotion that we all have. Fear can be a driving force behind our actions. But we will never progress and advance if we constantly fear the path we intend to tread.
If I let go of being worried about what people say and feel about my work, then that will enable me to be freer with my writing. Feedback is super important. But letting go of fear is even more so.