Feedback is your friend. Not all feedback is equal, though.
Discerning feedback from your editor or manager with expertise in the audience and topic you’re writing about can improve your copy. That’s the beauty of feedback, if you can hold off taking it personally and getting offended.
Feedback is an opportunity to expand thinking. It can gift a writer with a new way, a better way, or an alternative, to write what you’re trying to express. It could give you a sought after light bulb moment. Really.
Sometimes the feedback is more about preference, rather than improving your copy. Still worth hearing it. To test and weigh it up. That’s where the learning and growth comes in.
It takes thick skin receiving feedback as a writer. I recall when I was first offered an opportunity to freelance for the New Zealand Herald as a columnist back in 1998. The assistant editor asked me:
How do you feel about getting feedback on your writing?
I didn’t have a problem with it. It was how I learned. I knew if I was going to grow as a writer, I needed to be ruthless with my own copy.
I didn’t realise until later why I think he may have asked that question. During the course of my media career, I came across people who didn’t appreciate any feedback or correction from their editor, or anyone else to be fair. Instead, they expected their draft stories to run without editing or correction. But the truth is this: seldom is a first draft story ready to run. It could always do with tweaking.
And then some don’t know how to give feedback. So they say nothing. And that’s not helpful for a writer, either.
The reality is that people will always have opinions about your writing. It’s about knowing whose opinions count and not letting negative feedback define you as a writer. It’s simply feedback about a piece of writing, not about you at all.
Make that distinction, that separation between yourself and your writing early, as soon as you can. And that will help make the writing journey a lot more fun.
Vienna Richards holds a bachelor’s degree in communications studies, majoring in journalism from New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology (AUT). She graduated in 2001.
She has extensive writing credits starting as a chapter writer in 1998 for a HarperCollins publication, freelancing as a New Zealand Herald Columnist and magazine writer. She’s also worked in TV and radio as a journalist, news producer and radio news editor.
She has since worked as a corporate writer, speechwriter, ghostwriter and chief writer roles in public affairs communications for education, health, science, medical and broadcasting organisations and government agencies.