How to Avoid Feedback That Will Derail Your Writing (Part 1 of 3)

In Be About Something, I talk about how going public with your writing allows you to collect vital feedback that helps you refine your Big Idea quickly.

Way more quickly than batting the idea around the racquetball court known as your brain.


When some people read your writing, they’ll give you feedback you should absolutely ignore if you want to move forward.

But when other people read your stuff, they’ll provide critiques that are hard to hear but vital to your journey forward.

So, how do you tell the difference?

I’ve got some guidelines to consider, tailored to where you are in the writing process.

Here’s guideline numero uno.

1. On first-draft feedback: A couple of weeks ago I was in Holly’s poetry pop-up workshop, when she talked about whom to show your work to, before you publish but after you’re feeling done – or done enough.

She said it’s important to pick people who are encouraging in general, and who are always rooting for your highest good in particular.

Instead, we often pick people to read our first drafts who are “experts.” Those are the wrong people to start with.

Especially if you’re a quivering pile of mush when it comes to your work.

And who isn’t?

Her advice reminded me of a story.

Did you know that Laura Linney’s dad was a playwright? He was also a teacher in several theater programs. (Also, his name was Romulus, which is such an odd name, but anyway!)

Laura Linney was talking about her father on the WTF podcast. (Epsisode 1118 if you’re curious.)

He sounds like he was a “difficult” man. (I’m being generous here.)

So it wasn’t too surprising when, a couple of weeks later, a listener wrote in saying that Romulus, ripped his writing to shreds in front of the entire class 30 years ago and as a result, the listener never wrote another play. EVER.

Here’s my advice: Don’t show your first draft to Romulus Linney. Easy, since he’s dead.

But still, don’t show your first draft to anyone of his… ilk, OK?

If you suspect you’re in front of a Romulus, just tell him you didn’t complete the assignment and take the F.

Don’t let “difficult” experts see your first draft! It’s a one-way ticket to agonizing over whether you deserve a seat at the table. (You do.)

That’s guideline 1! I have 2 more I’m cooking up, so consider this post 1 of 3.

I welcome your feedback. Heh.

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