Finishing a story gives a feeling of accomplishment. But then what? Letting others read your master work and letting them critique it? That’s quite the confrontation that requires the writer to get out of his comfort zone. In the end, others will give their thoughts on a text into which the author has poured his/her heart’s content. It is always a little bit scary. What do they like? What do they not like? You can never entirely predict how it will be conveyed.
Who to ask?
So, feedback is there to help the writer. Now how to get it. One way is to ask your friends, parents, siblings or partners to read the story and tell you what they think about it. This might work but they also tend to say it is brilliant because this is the desired response or so they may think.
The opposite is also possible, the story can be completely trashed in a bad way. Of course, a first draft needs some careful rereads and rewrites so don’t expect that it will be perfect straight away. But unpolished, unsupportive feedback can take the joy out of writing not to mention have a negative influence on your self confidence.
A solution is to join a writing group. There are several online groups and there are also groups that meet up every while to discuss each others’ submissions. The plus point of having stories critiqued by other writers is that they are writers. This doesn’t mean that they always know how to critique well – giving feedback is an art all by itself. But they do know what it’s like to be given feedback and can explain better what it is that doesn’t seem to work properly in a story.
Another plus point of joining a writing or critiquing group is that, as a writer, you will also learn how to give feedback to others. This makes the process of receiving feedback easier, and it improves your own writing.
Keep in mind
Whether asking your sister, your partner or the members of the writing group you’ve joined – most importantly, you must feel at ease with the people you ask feedback from. It will be confronting and sometimes, it will be more than you wished it to be. But keep in mind that the critique you are given, is given to help you improve and grow as a writer – giving you new ideas to think about and work with. Don’t let it affect the joy of writing – instead, learn from it.