Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waiting to Process Feedback

I don't know about you, but often when I receive feedback on my writing I immediately want to jump in and start making revisions. I've heard that "you should always wait before making changes" or "give it time to really sink in," but I didn't realize the wisdom behind that advice until recently. I had a valuable learning experience with feedback that I thought I'd share with you all.

First of all, I believe that you should wait before processing or trying to implement feedback, but you should not wait a single second to thank the person who gave you the feedback. I often send emails to my CPs the minute I receive their feedback that look like this: "Thank you so much for getting back to me with your notes! I can't wait to dive in!"

If someone takes the time to read your work and try to help you improve it, you should thank them regardless of whether you agree with all, any, or none of their feedback. Full stop.

On to my experience. I had an agent reject me back in January with some feedback that I thought was valuable. I was working on a revision plan to address that feedback when I got a full request from another agent. Not wanting to make the 2nd agent wait an unreasonable amount of time, I let her know I'd need a week to make a revision. I quickly finished my plan, took scenes out, added new scenes in, and sent it to the agent. I also sent it to one of my CPs who hadn't read the book yet to see what she thought.

A few weeks later my CP got back to me, and the short version is: she did not think that the changes I made addressed the issues brought up by the 1st agent. I was devastated. I felt like I had ruined my book, and worse yet, that maybe it wasn't worth saving. I knew that I had rushed my revision plan, and not sent Agent 2 the best version of my book. Lesson 1: Don't rush the implementation of feedback.

Going back over my CP's notes a week later, however, I started to get excited about her ideas. Instead of feeling depressed at the amount of work I needed to do, I felt confident that I could make changes and improve the book. Lesson 2: If the feedback upsets you, give it some time, then come back to it. It's amazing how much difference even a week can make in your attitudes.

What lessons have you learned about receiving and using feedback?


  1. That sometimes you need to trust your gut. One of my best friends told me people needed to be able to identify with my heroine more. That she needed a flaw of some kind. Especially a physical flaw. I thought that was kind of a weird idea, but was having a hard time with the character so figured "what the heck," and gave her polio as a child so she had a limp. Then I read what I wrote and thought OML!!! It was awful. So I like the idea of waiting -- for a while -- before implementing those changes. I don't think I would have wasted all that time rewriting if I had. (PS. Not used to getting email notifications like yours. I responded in the reply box. Sorry. Not sure what that would have done...)

    Impromptu Promptlings

    1. It's true! Trusting your gut requires a lot of patience--to know that a solution WILL come in time.


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