Writing a Novel: Taking Feedback

This is one of those weird subjects.

Of course everyone wants feedback. Well, they want good feedback. You see, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow was a psychologist that studied what motivated people), after people have a stable source of food, a home, and friends/family, they seek recognition. They want the pride and esteem that comes from being recognized for one’s skills.

So, it’s only natural people would seek admiration and applause. It’s human nature!

Which means it’s also human nature to get upset when people point out your failings and flaws. It hurts–and nowhere does it hurt more than when creating art (whether it be novels, paintings, plays, or music). Creating art takes a ton of time, is often done in solitude, and relies solely on the creativity of the creator.

Which means, when someone says something negative about it, the creator often takes this as a personal attack. They worked for hours (sometimes hundreds of hours) on their masterpiece! How can someone dismiss it now?!

I get it. It hurts. I know, I’ve been there.

But feedback is ultimately one of the biggest steps in improving your writing. Sometimes you get to close to the story, and it’s hard to take a step back and say, “What’s wrong with this? How can I make it better?”

Even industry greats, like JK Rowling, and Stephen King, have editors. They give them feedback on their work. It doesn’t make anyone “less of an author.” If anything, it’s the most important step.

Someone might say, “Well, I don’t have anyone to give me feedback.”

To that I reply, “You’re on the internet right now, aren’t you? There’s always people willing to give you feedback!”

As a matter of fact, there are tons of Goodreads groups dedicated to feedback, and there are even forum boards with critique options, such as Absolute Write (which does every genre) and the Baen Bar (which does fantasy and science fiction).

Everyone in a critique group is actively seeking to get better. They aren’t there to tear you down or make you feel bad. It’s a community of like-minded people attempting to hone their craft.

And one more thing!

You’ll never please everybody. Ever.

Harry Potter is one of the highest selling novels of all time but it still gets terrible reviews from people that just don’t care for the premise or characters.

Even if someone doesn’t care for your work, know that entertainment is subjective. Everyone has their own tastes. Some people hate high-fantasy–not because yours is terribly written, but because they simply don’t care for the genre as a whole.

Always keep it in the back of your mind. Take feedback (it’s important to grow) but don’t take it to heart. Improve your story, and your craft, and let the hate roll off your back. :3

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