I know well the desire to have approval, the boost we get from a genuine compliment.
I also know that asking others for feedback when what we really want is a pat on the head is fraught with peril, asking for trouble, bending over and begging to be kicked.
Some general thoughts and specific comments on feedback:
Feedback is a minefield. Proceed with extreme caution.
Know what level of feedback you seek. Rosanne Bane explains.
Do you really need someone else to tell you whether what you’re writing is what you should be writing? Veteran editor (and publisher of The War of Art) Shawn Coyne says “That’s a recipe for disaster.” Mick Torbay says to avoid the committee like leftover brussels sprouts:
I have found general feedback from readers and writers to be useless. USELESS.
Feedback from a professional editor is golden.
Answers to specific questions can be helpful if
you know exactly what the question is, and
the person you ask is eminently qualified to answer that question, and
the person you ask will tell you the truth, and
the answer actually matters, which should really come before ‘a’ above.
What I’m Doing About It
I’m writing my first scifi adventure. I’m going to share the first draft, ugly and stinking, with a reader who loves Asimov and Burroughs the way I do. All I’m going to ask her is, does this feel right? Does this feel like them?
If yes, good. If no, I’ll ponder whether that matters and whether I’ll do anything about it except perhaps adjust my marketing message. I highly doubt I’ll change my writing because of the feedback. So that’s marketing research, not writing feedback, isn’t it?
Don’t Wait to Be Picked
Marketing guru Seth Godin has been saying it for years: don’t wait to be picked. Pick yourself.
Learn your craft. Know what a good story is, and isn’t. Do your best work, at least, best for now.
Don’t wait for someone else to tell you whether or not you’re good, whether or not to publish, whether or not your story matters.
Once your brain has enough information to get the basics done, it’s your heart’s turn to run with the story and scatter it to the four winds. And hopefully, more than four fans.
I am not using “machine” in the cool and/or hip sense, as in, your website will magically cause magic to magically happen.
I am using it the sense of a mechanism which does a thing. Because your website is probably an online brochure, limiting, perhaps even repelling, connection. Do these things well, and your site will have the mechanics to allow, even foster, connection. (These are mechanical steps, not social engineering, which is a subject for a different marketing-based post.)
Quick and dirty, not necessarily in order of importance unless otherwise stated.
I’m including the feature-length version of Chris’ bio because it’s so cool.
By the time he was 22 years old, Chris was leading a sales team of 120 independent contractors. His team consistently ranked in the top three productivity offices of roughly one-thousand North American teams. He attributes his team’s consistently high performance to a relentless focus on leader and culture development.
Chris left Direct Sales in 2006 to pursue his passion of leadership and team culture development on a larger scale, and founded Actionable Books in 2008. ActionableBooks.com – a company dedicated to using business books as a platform for leader and team growth – earned Chris 2009’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, a shortlisting for PROFIT’s Fuel Awards (2011) and has been the topic of articles in the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star and Toronto Business Times, as well as an audio interview for Profit Magazine’s BusinessCast.
In 2010, Chris launched “Actionable Interviews” a video interview series with best selling business book authors and leading thinkers in the business space. To date he’s conducted 42 interviews for the series, with highlights including Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Susan Cain and Sir Ken Robinson. It’s through these conversations that Chris developed The Salaried Entrepreneur™; an innovative team development methodology that’s being used internationally by companies large and small.
Chris currently lives in Spain with his wife, Amy.
While many of my songs are about Best Beloved, this one is not.
Although the lyrics reference any number of U.S. Presidents, the astute observer will note that it is not even remotely about politicians.
Without boring you with musicological details, the intro to this song is a challenge when we perform it live. While many of my other songs can be shifted up or down as much as a full key, those where I play the harmonica don’t have that luxury. Mostly because I don’t own enough harmonicas.
Someone called Ireland the land of happy wars and sad love songs. This song always feels like a little of both.
You should have married Andrew Jackson
I know that you think more of him than me
I’ll bet Ben Franklin would be fine with you
And that’s fine with me as far as I can see
Alexander Hamilton is only half as much
As Andrew Jackson in your twisted mind George Washington‘s just peanuts; Abe Lincoln‘s not much more
But Grover Cleveland would be quite a find
Too bad Woodrow Wilson don’t circulate no more
Got your hands on him he’d never leave
But gimme just one Roosevelt to call a cab
And I’ll be gone for good you’d best believe
My buddy Charlie Cheney stuffs his songs full of nouns. Every time I’d send him a set of lyrics and say hey, wanna put this to music? he’d respond “Where are all the nouns?” Yes, I tend to write ethereal touchy feely stuff. (You should note that Charlie has shared the stage with Jackson Browne and I have not. I know which of us is the better songwriter. Still, I soldier on.)
Charlie and some folks once put together a song made entirely of nouns. It was fun, but it didn’t make as much sense as Charlie’s Palmer Johnson Yacht.
I responded with this song: beautiful carelessly sultry.
It has no nouns. Zero. (You’re writers. You know what that means.)
Watch for posts on how Seth Godin is changing the book-writing and publishing world. For today, watch Seth himself talk about how, after his first book made the New York Times bestseller list, he gave his second book away—and made more money with it than his first book.