Three Tricks to Dealing with Feedback on Your Writing

First let's clear the air here: There are maybe two people on the whole planet who can totally take feedback on their writing without batting an eye. If you are one of those two people, I salute you. As for the rest of us, we may or may not collapse in a heap of indignation, fear, self-doubt, and depression when we first see feedback on our writing.

I'm not talking comments on a blog post or essay. I'm talking feedback from an editor, writing teacher, or book coach. I'm talking about the people you are paying to tell you things you very much do not want to hear.

So before I give you my tricks for dealing with feedback, I want to say: You are NOT alone. Everyone feels at least a bit shaken when they get feedback on their writing. Everyone feels a little disappointed that they didn't just get a big stamp from their editor that says "Amazing! Five stars! You are all done!" So don't let it worry you when you are sad (and maybe even miffed) about your feedback. It's going to be okay.

And I promise, the more feedback you get, the easier it becomes to bounce back from it.

So. My three tricks for dealing with feedback on my writing are as follows.

Three Tricks to Dealing with Feedback on Your Writing

1. Read the feedback and then let yourself feel all the emotions. 

Feel sad or mad, feel confused, feel the self doubt. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Maybe vent in your journal. It's okay, really. Feelings are just feelings and stuffing them sure doesn't shut them up, so you might as well listen to them for a bit, without any judgement. It's normal. It's so, so normal.

2. Give yourself some space.

I give myself 24-48 hours to process the feedback before I make any revisions--and before I even reread the feedback. Usually the first day, I'm a bit like a wounded animal. I'm also fairly certain that I will never share my work with anyone again.

But the next day, I start to calm down. I start to remember the nice things my editor said. I start to think that actually, she made some pretty good points now that I think about it.

By the third day I'm ready to dig in. I feel invigorated and inspired by all my editor's comments. As I make the revisions I think how much better my article will be because of it. And I'm very thankful that I didn't do anything rash the first day or so after I got my feedback.

3. Realize that your editor does not have the secret for all writing.

Editors do have a super power, but it's not what you think. As I mentioned in another post, their super power is that they approach your work like a reader, while you will always only ever be able to see your work from the perspective of the writer. So they see things you don't, not because they are better than you, but just because they aren't the ones who wrote it. 

In fact, if you got some of their writing after their first draft, you'd probably have some suggestions of your own to make. Because no one is a perfect writer and no one creates a perfect draft on round one.

Coping with Feedback on Your Writing