By the time you read this, K and I will have used up our not-so-much-of-a-splurge time at the spa and returned to the camping life in New England. While I’m away, some great friends have offered to share their thoughts on writing and receiving feedback. Today, Jason Konopinski tells the story many of us have lived – from the “sanctity” of our original work to realizing that the work gets better with reworking.
One of the most humbling things that any writer can experience is critical feedback on the work that we do. We may not like the blow to the ego, but the lessons come along with the feedback are important and lasting. Writers can be a sensitive lot, happily basking in our own well-intentioned ignorance. After all, the posts that we pen are being shared, commented upon – and traffic to our content is steadily rising over time. So what happens when the feedback isn’t quite so rosy?
Constructive criticism is invaluable to me as a content creator, but it wasn’t always that way. As an undergraduate, I resisted critiques and edits because in my head, I was motivated by creative inspiration. Change a word or rework this line? Preposterous because it polluted the sanctity of the work. Stepping out of that mindset took work. The pile of rejection letters helped, too. I decided that I wanted to take my writing (and the profession) seriously, strip away all the preconceived notions about what it means to make a living forging meaning out of words and be vulnerable. Vulnerable to harsh critiques, editors who brandished the red pen with impunity and reviewers who saw that I was trying too hard to construct a persona that simply couldn’t last.
Wrestling with feedback is still a struggle, in spite of it all. It can derail a streak of productivity, knock us unpleasantly out of a groove, pop that perfect little bubble. As I’ve often said, change isn’t easy. It can bloody our noses just as easily as it can shift our fortunes. I distrust things that happen too easily and question their staying power. I still have to fight the temptation to ignore valid and well-reasoned criticism of my work.
The lesson here is that, as writers, we have to get comfortable with divorcing ourselves from the creative work that we do when criticism comes our way. An experienced editorial eye will improve our writing if we let it, but I’ll admit that it’s not easy to do. Publishing success relies on people actually buying the book, doesn’t it?
Jason is the founder of JMK Media & Communications, a content marketing consultancy. An advocate of social good and strong storytelling, Jason works with small-to-medium sized corporate and agency clients to produce rock-solid audience responsive content. He is currently seeking new opportunities in the agency world as a copywriter and digital content creator.