“I believe every artist had someone who told them that they weren’t worth dirt and someone who told them that they were the second coming of the baby Jesus, and they believed ‘em both.”
A few tips about feedback
- Try to do it face to face. This allows you to react immediately to any non verbal signals or reactions.
- Ask the recipient what feedback they would like and how they thought they had done.
- Adapt your feedback to the person. It might be okay to say to a child "You've worked hard" but for a writer you need to provide more specific notes. I found that being told "I like this bit" worked well for me. For example, the scene between Nick Station and his secret daughter in Tick-Tock read well. Perhaps it was because the audience knew more than the characters? So I just doubled the length of the scene. Even after doing this, I've been told this could be expanded further, something I might do to take it to an hour.
- Don't employ the sandwich method. This method has now been discredited. People see through it. You say something nice then something crap then something nice.
- If you can structure feedback through saying only "I like this" or "I like that" that may be enough. Brian Clough only felt a footballer would remember 3 things going into a match. If you can say I loved the way you did this task through x, y and z then this positive reinforcement may be enough to see an improvement. For me, being told by two people that they loved one particular scene/dynamic in my play, persuaded me to extend it.
- Make your feedback specific. It should be something that is clear and actionable. It might also be something that will help a writer improve not only a single piece of work but all their future work.
- The recipient should have the opportunity to respond either straight away or later. This will allow them to reconfigure the advice into their world view. This is particularly important for writers who have developed their world and will find any suggestion to change it hard to take it.
- Feedback can be ignored. Clearly, there are risks in doing this but so are their in making drastic changes to your work that makes it no longer your voice.