5 Ways to Provide Gracious Feedback

Take this, bitches! Okay, I just pulled a Lori Dyan there. Such sentiment could be perceived as ungracious, but I assure you (in this case) — it’s ALL LOVE! 

Like Maria says, our little writing group can be a bit loosey-goosey when it comes to rules. However, because critiquing is such an important part of our Restless Writers’ unwritten rules and responsibilities, it seemed worthy of a follow-up blog post to: The Restless Writers’ Guide to Criticism.

 To grow and evolve as writers we must do the inevitable—offer our work to others for critique. Agreeing to provide feedback is one of the best things we can do to improve our writing skills. In fact, just being asked implies a “trust” in each other’s skills and opinions to help take our stories from good to FANTASTIC.

According to Write for Your Life, there are ways to provide feedback  that can be tough, thought-provoking, compassionate and yes, even constructive.

5 Ways to Providing Gracious Feedback:

1. We’re talking one person’s opinion

Always frame your feedback as only your opinion. Others will have different thoughts or suggestions—particularly the author! Add a statement at the end of your feedback emails that reads:  please accept/reject/alter or ignore anything here as it is your work and this is my take on it.

2. Feedback is not a monologue

Feedback involves more than one person. It’s a dialogue. Always offer to discuss your comments or suggestions with the writer. Remember, it’s okay to disagree. It’s the writer’s work after all and they do get the final say.

3. Be Positive & Stick to Specifics

Always begin with something positive! Then use specific examples to illustrate your point. Give suggestions on how the writer may make changes. Be honest. Constructive feedback is more likely to give a writer an ‘a-ha!’ moment, even if it initially feels like a slap in the face. Avoid broad-sweeping statements or generalisation. It gives a writer nothing to work with.

4. Stick to Deadlines

Don’t leave people hanging for weeks waiting. Writers assume that if people don’t get back to them in good time it means they’re struggling to find the right words to tell you that your work stinks. Determine mutually agreeable deadlines for turning in feedback.

5. Set parameters from the get-go

Ask the writer: what kind of feedback they’re looking for, what draft version they are sending, where they are planning to send it (e.g. contests), the word count, due date for submission, and the date feedback is required.

Sure, giving feedback can sometimes be terrifying but if you stick to this format, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Start small. Be truthful. Offer creative alternatives. The more you do it, the less painful it will be.

How do you provide *gracious* feedback? Any suggestions to add to this list?


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