52 Weeks of Feedback

The other night I was telling my husband about how discouraging the lack of feedback can be in the world of writing. An extra degree of effort is required on the part of the reader to tell an author what he or she thought about an article or book, to express how the author’s words might have impacted them, or even to bring up certain aspects they may have disagreed with. Actually, an extra degree of effort is required just to read those words in the first place. So much demands our attention these days that it has become a luxury to read a book or magazine uninterrupted, and even more rare to read a web article all the way through in one sitting.

Occasionally we writers get a glimmer of feedback from readers and, if we’re lucky, from a gracious editor. I know that I am indebted to the few editors who took the time to tell me how to improve my writing and praised the stronger passages. I am also very grateful for the people who have read something I’ve written and taken time to comment on my blog posts, Facebook page or send me an email.

All that being said, sometimes we have to be the change we want to see in the world. So, I am dedicating myself to 52 Weeks of Feedback. Every week, I will read an article thoroughly and provide that author with candid, helpful feedback. I won’t necessarily comment on the writing itself, but provide some kind of affirmation for the work that author put into putting that article together or the ideas they are putting forward. This is something I already do on a regular basis, but I want to do it more intentionally.

So here is the challenge:

  • I will read and comment on a piece of writing every week for 52 weeks.
  • If I miss a week, I’ll comment twice the following week.
  • If it is a web article, I will leave a comment using the comment feature. If it is a magazine article, or I want to comment on a book, I will email that author my feedback (or find some way of contacting him or her!)

So, who’s with me? Are there any other writers out there who want to dedicate themselves to 52 Weeks of Feedback?

30 thoughts on “52 Weeks of Feedback

  1. annagergen says:

    I’d love to try 52 weeks! What kind of articles are you going to look at, and where will you find works to critique?

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      Hi Anna. I’d love it if you joined me in my 52 Weeks of Feedback! I have a few blogs that I follow and generally read articles about the outdoors, social media and the writing industry. I used Google Reader and Facebook to keep up-to-date with my favourite writers. I also have a few favourite magazine subscriptions and want to be more intentional about tracking down the author’s of the pieces I enjoy the most. My goal is not necessarily to provide critique (I do mentor a few budding writers on the side). I may provide a critique if the piece warrants it, but mostly I just want to affirm other writers in what they are bringing to the table and celebrate their ideas.

  2. Meredith Ward says:

    I agree that sometimes getting that positive feedback can be an elusive yet precious link with others. Sometimes, for a technological dinosaur such as myself, it is not being able to navigate the required hoops to leave the message. But I am indeed a faithful and proud reader of everything and anything that you write that I can get my hands on. So be encouraged ; you have a huge fan in your corner.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      I wouldn’t say that you are a technological dinosaur, but I do know what you mean. I try to make my websites as accessible as possible for peopel to contribute their thoughts. I am very happy and blessed to have a fan like you!

  3. Michelle says:

    I agree with you Meghan. It is discouraging when you don’t get any kind of feedback from anyone. I always try to leave feedback of some kind, whether it is a comment on a point they are addressing or something. I am interested in taking this challenge with you.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      Great, Michelle! I don’t have any kind of formal way for people to participate, but I will be checking in with people who say they are interested to see how things are going. Stay tuned on this website for updates!

  4. Ross says:

    I’d love to join in as well. I love getting feedback but leave far too little for others. More practice giving and getting feedback would be valuable experience.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      I’m so glad you’d like to join, Ross. I didn’t expect so many people to want to participate! I may have to figure out a way of checking in with people to see how it’s all going. In the meantime, I’m eager to hear what your experience is with the challenge, so feel free to write on my Wall or comment here!

      • Meghan J. Ward says:

        I like where you’re going with this, Ross. It would be great to have a place where we can all come together and share what we’re learning through the process. But in the spirit of giving feedback I’d love to find a way to do this publicly! Perhaps I can do a shout out once a month either on my Facebook page or blog and participants can share the latest things they’ve been reading, what it meant to share some feedback and what they are learning. I’m using the hashtag #52weeksoffeedback on Twitter, too.

      • Meghan J. Ward says:

        Yes! Great suggestion. I was thinking it would be good to have a hashtag that encompassed the whole concept but you’re totally right. More room to tweet is better. #feedback52 it is.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      You rock, Gwen! I still need to do my feedback for the week, but just got back from a ski trip! I am thinking I may post links to the articles, books, etc. that I like here on the website…I’ll let you all know if I find some way of keeping track of all this!

  5. Ross says:

    Got the latest issue of In Treehouses, a favorite digital magazine of mine about micro-publishing, and read through the whole thing yesterday. First thing this morning I sent the author an email about a couple of the ideas I liked and didn’t like in the magazine. Feels good to give feedback and connect at the same time.

  6. Meghan J. Ward says:

    I hadn’t given my feedback to anyone this week, but then I stumbled across this article by Katherine Ellison: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dell/2012/04/19/managing-distraction-how-and-why-to-ignore-your-inbox/2/

    She really hit the nail on the head and helped me to contextualize the real issue at hand when it comes to the way we deal with our email inboxes (a big struggle for me). I commented on the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Buzz-A-Year-of-Paying-Attention/113732785325394) for her book with my feedback since I didn’t feel like signing up for the Forbes website. This way she would also get the feedback more directly.

  7. Michelle says:

    One of my friends still in university needed someone to go over her paper and I offered. While I didn’t know much on the subject matter she was writing on, I tried to provide feedback on parts of the information I didn’t understand because of lack of information. I was able to talk to her today and she appreciated the feedback I gave. The best part was what I learned about the subject.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      Sometimes a person who is unfamiliar with a subject is the best to provide feedback because they’ll catch those gaps in the information. If we’re too close to something we miss things, eh? Thanks for writing, Michelle!

  8. Christine Peets says:

    Interesting challenge, Meghan. So often we just click “like” on Facebook without really commenting, or giving feedback. Feedback is so important to writers, and I appreciate the comments I get on my blog, or on a link I put up. (Thank you for your comment.) I’m lucky in that I do get good feedback from most of the editors I work with–and I find that the ones who give the best feedback are also writers. I may just join in this challenge. Thanks for starting us off.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      Thanks, Christine. I am also thankful for the feedback I do get from editors (I understand we are all juggling a lot!) If you would like to officially join, I will be sending out a monthly email to participants (just to check in and let people know that a new post is up). Let me know if you’d like to be put on the list (I promise it’ll be just one email a month!). :)

  9. Gwen Cameron says:

    Hi 52-Weekers! I just unsubscribed from Freeskier Mag’s newsletter and sent the online editor an email letting him know that, in short, I love the content but there are just too many emails. It resulted in a really interesting discussion of how best to format newsletters (I deal with some of their same dilemmas at Alpinist.com). Way cool!

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      That’s really neat, Gwen. It’s interesting that you learned something about your own challenges at Alpinist by providing some feedback to another magazine. I suppose feedback really opens some doors!

  10. Kim Kircher says:

    I love this idea of providing the one thing we humans all want. Writers especially long for feedback. Bravo for putting this out there. In doing so, you are offering the universe something you need yourself, which is a very beautiful gesture.

    • Meghan J. Ward says:

      Thanks for your comments, Kim. I found them very encouraging! I was surprised by some of the negative feedback I got about this challenge (mainly from people who didn’t think it was necessary). Necessary or not, I think it is a valuable exercise.

  11. jennyj says:

    I’m in! I know that I always get a little thrill when I check my emails and see that someone has commented on my writing. Pay it forward #feedback52!

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