Today I’d like to talk to you about getting feedback on your writing. This is a must-have in my own process, whether it be feedback from my beta readers, my critique partners, or just some super helpful strangers in awesome online writing communities who help with my query letters (AgentQuery Connect has awesome forums for all kinds of things of this nature). Getting a second opinion on your story from someone who can look at the story completely objectively is invaluable, in my humble opinion.
However, I’ve also come to learn that the way you approach this feedback is just as important.
I can be insanely insecure about my writing when it comes to allowing others to read it–as are many writers, at least the ones I know. I’m also incredibly stubborn and persistent, and am willing to write a book twenty times over if it means making it the best it can be. So when someone else offers suggestions for improvement, my initial urge is to jump on it, almost blindly.
This happened fairly recently when I had some other sets of eyes give me their opinions on a query letter. A lot of the comments I received were very helpful, and ultimately the query turned out better because of them. Some of the comments, however, weren’t right for the query, and the changes would not have improved the letter. It wasn’t until after I spent hours trying to reword and rephrase a section of the letter that someone told me to change that I realized I liked the sentence the way it was. I liked how it conveyed the tone of my novel and my writing style. And so I went with my gut, and kept it.
I think there is definitely merit in getting second opinions and following advice when necessary. I also think there comes a time when you need to look at these comments and revisions, and ask yourself who knows your story best. (Hint: the answer is you) At the end of the day, you and your work are never going to please everyone. So you’re going to have to decide if you’re going to change your work to try to achieve this impossible feat, or if you’re going to trust yourself as a writer, go with your gut, and make the hard decisions that you believe are right for your story.
The point of this ramble is this: Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Go with your gut.
And write on, friends.