The Power of Feedback by Clive Howard

An exciting aspect of Create50 was the opportunity to get feedback from other writers. As a writer, I know well the value of feedback. That said, it can be very difficult to hear.

Despite several years of experience, I can still have a negative response to other people’s thoughts on my work – akin to someone criticising your child.

However, I have learned that feedback almost always makes the work better.

I believe that there are two important considerations with respect to feedback.

The first is that people can fear offending and so do not always give you their honest thoughts. Other writers tend to be more honest which is why Create50 is so great. I gave the first draft of my The Singularity 50 entry – “The Agency of Ellis” – to someone I know well for review.

Their initial comments were positive but I could tell there was something that they were holding back. With encouragement, they were more critical. As a result, I re-wrote the story – keeping the same characters, locations and the story’s soul – but the new version was significantly different. It was also much, much better.

The second is that there is often a degree of interpretation involved. Reviewers do not always mean exactly what they say. Sometimes one must read between the lines or delve deeper into their thoughts – being careful not to seem like you’re arguing the point. Reviewers can provide solutions rather than articulate the underlying issue – a little careful questioning can unearth the true problem. One must often balance different feedback that can sometimes seem contradictory.

I also find that reviewing other people’s work improves my own. By reading others one can learn and then apply those learnings to your own work. It helps to hone a critical eye which one can then use on your own work.

For these reasons, in addition to the fantastic opportunity to get work published, I found taking part in Singularity50 a great learning experience.

Clive Howard
Twitter: @clivehoward

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