All writers want feedback on their work. Those newer to the game will ask anyone and everyone for it, which is great in theory … but not very effective. At all. Ever.
Unfortunately, the idea of asking a close friend or relative to “check out your work” is a lot more appealing than it is feasible. People are busy. They’re working on their own projects and focusing on their own goals. It isn’t that they don’t want to help … they just can’t.
Knowing this, you might feel a little discouraged. All is not lost! Here are a few ways you can slowly start to accumulate helpful feedback on your writing. All you’ll need is a little time and a lot of patience. A LOT of patience.
Join an online writing group
Writing is only partially a solitary activity. Sometimes when you’re feeling unmotivated or aren’t sure if your current project is going the way you want, it helps to have a community behind you. Sort of like a support group for writers. If used correctly, an online writing group can in some ways lead to getting more individualized feedback (keyword: “If”).
Now let’s be clear here: the purpose of joining any kind of writing community is not to toss out your work in hopes that someone will grab it at random and take a look at it. If things worked that way, everyone would spend all their time reading other people’s stories instead of working on their own. The purpose of joining an online writing group is to get to know other writers, to build relationships and maybe, eventually, form a partnership where a few people critique each other’s work amongst themselves.
Guest post, contribute, submit: just get your stuff out there
In reality, you’re not going to get individualized feedback very easily, especially in the beginning. You’re going to have to draw people to your work, in the right way, gradually, without messaging every single person who follows you on Twitter. (Please. Please. Don’t.) Guest posting on blogs, becoming a contributing or guest writer on websites, etc., is a great way to start this process.
Normally you might see this advice given to people who want to link more traffic back to their blogs, and it can be great for that. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you expect to get a ton of new traffic to your blog by posting on other people’s blogs, sites, magazines, etc., you’re going to have to have A LOT of patience. Because it does not come quickly, if at all.
You’re much better off pitching publications to form relationships with editors. You can also look at it this way: if more people do eventually find your work, you have more of a chance at receiving feedback from strangers. This is great in the sense that strangers will be honest and won’t think twice about whether or not they’re hurting your feelings. Constructive criticism at its finest … right?
Some feedback is better than none, though, so start by reaching out to fellow bloggers, writers and editors to form partnerships and go from there. Here are a few tips for doing this appropriately.
Take an online class
There are plenty of free online resources out there (we’ll link to some of them in next week’s newsletter). Formal classes might not be for you, but it does give you a much better chance of getting feedback from someone else on something you’ve written. It really depends on how much time you have, and whether or not you’re willing to give it a try (there is no right or wrong choice here: it’s up to you).
What’s really important to understand here is that, while feedback helps, it isn’t the only way to improve. As long as you keep writing, you WILL get better. It’s hard to explain how, but you can check out this post for some ways to start figuring this out for yourself. Everyone is different. We all measure improvement on different levels. Chances are, you’re already on the right track. It’s just a sloooooooow road.
Have any more suggestions for how writers can find helpful feedback? Leave your own ‘feedback’ in the comments.
Image courtesy of USA TODAY College.