Ever since I announced my challenge, 52 Weeks of Feedback, I have received a fair amount of…feedback! I didn’t expect to ignite discussion simply by raising the issue of the lack of feedback in the world of writing, but I did.
The challenge has incited a variety of responses. Some writers love the idea and realized that they love getting feedback but leave far too little for other people. One writer asked why I feel that there is a lack of feedback. Another said they liked the idea, but couldn’t commit to making it ‘a chore’ by formalizing the process of giving feedback.
The responses got me thinking about how we all operate as writers, and what drives us. I personally enjoy the sense of community that is created around my writing. It feels good to know that I have struck a chord in a reader or generated some kind of discussion. It also feels good to get positive feedback from an editor and to see progress. On the flip side, I appreciate the things I learn about improving my writing through the smallest of edits. I carry each of those lessons forward into the next article.
That being said, as a writer I need to be able to write to my highest standard and do my job without feedback. I can’t rely on a pat on my back to know I’m putting something good out there. I need to learn to know this for myself, have confidence in my skill and my creative flair – that touch that I, and only I, can put on a piece.
Writers are some of the most passionate people I know. When we become hooked by a particular idea, story or controversy, we dive into it, swimming in the depths of the material, research, interviews – anything we can get our hands on – before bringing the story to the surface. I know that I can’t comfortably bring anything forward until I’ve done the best job I can to get the story right and bring something new to the table. So, after all that work, I have to know for myself that I’ve done the best job that I can. No one else can do that for me. It’s icing on the cake if someone does.
I have a note on my bulletin board that says, “Olé! for showing up.“ It comes from a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I’ve embedded below. Reflecting on the success of her book, Eat Pray Love, Gilbert muses on the expectations we have for writers and other creative people who create works of genius. I have never created one of these works (to my knowledge). But in every word there lies potential for genius. It is not something we can guarantee. All we can do is show up and let Genius do the rest.
I highly recommend you take 20 minutes to watch this video. The last two minutes give me goosebumps every time.