A Second Eye’s View – Giving Feedback

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Hi guys!

This week I’m going to talk about giving feedback to other writer’s.

When I first started to take my writing seriously the part I dreaded was being asked to give my thoughts about a piece of work. I found it even more daunting than giving my own work out for feedback.

Four years on and I still feel sick with the idea. How do you tell someone who has been putting every piece of themselves into their work only to tell them it’s not quite as good as they think?

I’ve been lucky as some of the work I’ve critiqued hasn’t been awful nor totally unfixable and I’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve been given.

What is the right way to give feedback?

Here are some things I remember when opportunity knocks:

1. Always start with what works.

Why?

Because it’s easier to hear the negatives when you start on a positive note. Do you like their writing style? Do you like a character in particular? Is the story flow good and interesting? If so, mention it. I tend to start with a positive comment, then add a negative, then something positive to follow.

2. Remember you are critiquing the work, and not the writer.

Why?

If a writer asks for feedback the least helpful thing to do is to point out their faults as an artist. Never mention the word ‘you.’ This can be seen as a personal attack sometimes which leads to a plunge in confidence. Always refer to the sentence, paragraph or prose. This way you can draw their attention to what’s important. The piece of work.

3. Read the piece of work carefully.

Why?

Well, it makes no sense to not do so. If your intentions are to help and be respectful of the work you’re viewing, then this is a no brainer. There’s nothing worse than receiving pointless feedback such as “I like this part,” or “This was really bad. I didn’t like it.” Give reasons as to why. What’s good about the part that you like? What’s so bad that it made you not like it?

4. Attempt to have fun even if it’s not what you like reading. Or decline to comment.

Why?

Something good always comes out of reading genres that I’m not a huge fan of. Sometimes I’ll learn something about the way the writer paces their story. Sometimes I find their writing style is interesting and I read on. If a piece of work is out of my league I tend to say thanks, but no thanks. Commenting on a genre that you like, but has problems is one thing. To comment on a piece of work that isn’t your thing is another. This has happened a couple of times when I’ve offered my work. I prefer that than to have someone who is totally clueless to the genre I’m writing in.

5. Always give an alternative if you can.

Why?

It helps both yourself and the writer of the piece. By identifying what could be better you’re learning what to look out for in your own work. If a word doesn’t quite fit offer up another that does. If a sentence doesn’t sound right write it the way you would. Try to apply this wherever you can.

If you follow these steps, then I’m sure you won’t have any trouble in giving feedback when that time comes.

Hope you are all well.

Oh, and Happy Easter!

Until next week,

Blaze

With thanks to Thomas Martinsen               for the image via Unsplash.com.

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A Boxful of Happy

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Hi guys!

Today, I’m sharing my Happy Box.

It’s known by different names such as a self sooth or crisis box, but I like calling it a box of Happy. 

Everyone should have one. There’s nothing like opening a box of nice things when you’re feeling low or having a bad day.

I first heard about this a couple of years ago. It’s seen a lot of changes since then. The box I first used was smaller, but I’ve since expanded it.

So, what exactly is a happy box? And what do you put in it?

A happy box is something that you can put together for your not so great days. It has helped me survive days that I might have not got through otherwise.

You can put anything in it that makes you happy or smile. You can also put in things that help calm you or help you be mindful. I’m focusing on creating a box that engages all of my five senses.

That’s touch, sight, smell, taste and hear.

I have more things for sight than anything else, but here’s what’s in mine;

Two colouring books – One is The Time Garden by Daria Song. The other is The Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta. Both of these have had their own features in the past.

Cards with thoughtful messages – Two of these are from my extended family who reside in Perth, Western Australia. One was for my wedding and another came with a gift.

Photos – I’m planning on getting more printed off.

A bracelet that my eight year old sister gave me – It was a present for Christmas. On it she’d decorated with stickers spelling out that she loved me. Even though it doesn’t fit it’s really cute.

A Bad Girls DVD – It might be an old TV series, but it always makes me laugh. It also has one of my favourite actresses in it. Simone Lahbib. I think she’s fantastic.

A scented candle – A friend sent me it as a gift. It’s Lavender and Rose. I always think of her whenever I light it.

Feedback I’ve received from writers – It might seem like a weird thing to do, but I love re reading feedback. It gives me a boost when I need it most.

Journals – I have two. One where I write down my private thoughts. The second is where I keep my gratitude. They help with gaining perspective of things.

A book of Buddhism – I read it to gain inspiration and to be humble always.

I still have things to add such as a stress ball for when I’m angry, a tangle for when I’m anxious, a playlist full of happy, cheery songs and something for taste.

I’m also going to add some positive quotes, things to fight for and more photos.

Thanks for reading.

I hope this can be of some use. I’m struggling today with the whole attachment/ detachment thing. Using these tools to help me through. 🙂

Until next week,

Blaze

Colour Therapy

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Hi guys!

I’ve been seeing a Psychologist for just over a month now. In that time I’ve experienced many emotions. Some, I expected to feel. The others, not so much.

The first week I felt really angry with things. I dealt with it by listening to a lot of My Chemical Romance and walking. The second week I’d calmed and was happier. By the third session the anger had resurfaced followed by a lot of upset.

This has continued as I’ve talked about my traumatic childhood and teenage years.

Only last week did I open up about it and I was fine. The emotions didn’t show up until later.

The picture above is from the Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta. Colouring isn’t something that always helps me. In the past couple of weeks though it has tremendously. It gives you a chance to think about something else other than what you’re feeling and thinking about.

Sometimes I like to colour with music playing in the background. Other times I prefer to colour in silence. It all depends on my mood.

Colouring books get a lot of bad press. It’s beyond me why. If it helps someone relax and take away their troubles how can that be bad? Or maybe I’m missing the point entirely.

Who knows?

I’ve had a good week with receiving feedback from readers. I’m still on a dilemma about what angle to tell the story from, but I’m hopeful that, that will be resolved shortly.

I hope you have had a great week and continue to do so in the coming one.

Until next week,

Blaze

Breaking The Mould.

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Hi guys!

Fiction is a wonderful thing. It’s an endless world of possibilities and it’s ever changing.

When I was a child I loved reading the books written by Jacqueline Wilson. The first time I was introduced to her books was when my teacher called us for story time. The book she read to us was called The Suitcase Kid. It was about a young girl called Andrea West, Andy for short. Her parents are divorcing and she finds herself living between two houses with Radish, her tiny stuffed rabbit.

This might not have been the first book to address divorce, but it was the first one that I’d come across. Although, I haven’t experienced it, it’s a book I still love.

I went on to devour each book that she’d written. My favourites are The Story of Tracey Beaker, The Illustrated Mum and Love Lessons.

Love Lessons has been met with the most criticism. At least that’s what I’ve found.

The reason for this criticism?

The book features fifteen year old Prudence and her younger sister, Grace. They are taught at home by their controlling father, but this changes when he has a stroke. Their mother sends them to a state school where Prudence gets a crush on her art teacher, Rax. 

Most of the criticism comes from parents saying how absurd the whole plot was. One even accused her of persuading young minds to seduce their teachers.

Personally after reading it I couldn’t have been more dissuaded to follow Prudence’s path.

Some may feel that this was an illicit fantasy, and it is one that girls think about. Not all, but some.

But would shying away from the subject only cause more harm than not speaking of it?

It’s  a discussion without an end.

Breaking through the mould or writing something completely different is hard to do. The results can be worthwhile, but to be met without criticism is highly unlikely.

Until next week,

Blaze

With thanks to Mikhail Pavstyuk for the image via Unsplash.com