While I was getting my undergrad degree in English, in all my writing courses we would have numerous peer review days. This was when you would give a draft of your story to another classmate and have them review and edit it.
I dreaded these days.
At first, it’s a really scary feeling to give your piece of writing to someone else to critique. I mean, it’s your baby. It’s something that you’ve created and put your heart into. But feeling scared happens when you actually care and are passionate about your writing. So relate the feeling of being scared into a positive factor.
In my imagination I would think that someone would completely mark up my page and tell me I sucked at writing. But, you know what. That never happened. And it won’t happen to you either.
Instead it would just be a few markups, some grammar errors and some suggestions. In fact, most of the time…the suggestions helped me out and made the paper flow and sound better. As I looked around the room, in the sweet relief that I wasn’t told I was a sucky writer I saw that everyone received some type of mark up in red ink on their draft. I wasn’t the only one.
As I continued with my classes my anxiety about peer review day began to decrease week by week.
Overtime, I began to look forward to the peer reviews. I also learned to take suggestions….as just that. A suggestion. Most of the time I felt the suggestions helped the piece and I used it. Other times, if I didn’t like it, I didn’t use it. I mean, ultimately it’s your creation. So you can do what you want with it.
I feel that all people have the ability to offer you great feedback. But, sometimes you have to look at the source of that feedback before taking it too personally.
For example, I had a business owner tell me not to use so much white space in my blogs. Which, I hesitantly had to accept and follow. I mean, it was his website and if he didn’t like the white space I could limit it. But, what this business guy didn’t care to understand was how important white space in a blog. So, while he wasn’t a fan of white space, I personally am. For his company’s blogs, I didn’t use white space. But going forward with my other blogs, I used white space.
Again, his suggestion wasn’t the say all end all for all blogs out there. It was just his opinion. And just like all opinion you can decide to take it or leave it.
I also look and think about who is giving the suggestion. I have some people in my life that are amazing writers and have grown into being very successful writers. Due to their experience and success I respect and follow their feedback with a higher regard than someone who doesn’t make a living from writing.
In any industry you should always be learning, growing and listening. Feedback is one of the greatest sources to improve your writing and should always be welcomed with an open mind. Again, while it may feel scary at first, the more you do it the more you will feel comfortable and even enjoy the feedback process.