Recently I have been thinking about both the giving and receiving of feedback quite a bit, and thinking about why it is important and how it can help or hinder success. Here I look at receiving it, and another time I shall look at the giving of it (because otherwise this post will be mammoth!).
As a parent, nearly seven solid years of parenting practice I mostly know what I am doing, although things change all the time. Feedback comes from a variety of (not always welcome) sources; family, friends, other parents, strangers and my children. It seems to me that we don’t always prioritise it in the right way. How often do we put the feedback from our children first, above all others?
I know if I am ‘getting it right’ if they are happy and content, if they are carefree, if they are entertained, if they are imaginative, if they are behaving like children. This is obvious, it is right in front of my eyes. On the whole it is indirect, but the occasional unprompted ‘Mummy, I love you’ is completely worth that.
Of course, it’s sweet if the little old lady on the bus tells you you have beautiful, well behaved children (but she should see bathtime!). But some of the feedback I see bandied around on the internet, where there is apparently only one ‘right’ path…well it beggars belief. That isn’t to say we can’t give feedback at all, but we have to question if it is useful and valuable.
Feedback does help though, knowing that sometimes I get it wrong is not a negative thing. I can try to get it right next time. I often read about parenting, talk to friends about parenting, after I have recognised an issue. It helps me understand what might be going wrong, but ultimately it is my choice as to if I make changes to my parenting, and what they might be.
As a writer I receive feedback in numerous ways; comments on my blog and social media interactions, people sharing my work and the page views I have for my site. I often wonder about the genuineness of some of this feedback, the usefulness of it and how much value I put on it, in its various forms. I’m not sure I’m always prioritising it in the right way.
How does it help me become a better writer? I’m sure that occasionally self-promotion is dressed up as feedback. Other times it can be superficial or guarded, rather than constructive. And numbers, are they really feedback at all? What feedback about my writing should I be putting first, what is the most valuable form of feedback about my writing to me?
I feel that I am ‘playing a role’ rather than owning being a writer. But I can see that really it is just my general insecurities rearing their heads. Just as I have become less bothered by parenting feedback, through my years of practice, I will become more secure as a writer as I practice. Ultimately I just want to write, so sod the numbers (easier said than done).
I have become interested in not having a comments section through Renee at Mummy Tries, a lady I hugely admire. She has turned them off on her blog, to avoid the comments for the sake of them. Because if you really want to say something valuable there are other mediums for doing so. And because as mothers of three children we haven’t got much time. I know she’s right in a way.
However, to come full circle, in the same way that I am open to beneficial parenting feedback I am willing to receive comments on what I write, and I hope that I can master this craft. So I invite them, and value them, though I cannot hold them on a pedestal. I’m never going to reply to ‘great post!’. Having a conversation, a discussion about what I write can add value, and that is what I am striving for.
And soon I will turn my pondering to the giving of feedback; how well do I do it and how does it affect others?
Any thoughts? You know I’d love to chat about it;-)