Saturday, 8 November 2014

Learning from Feedback...

Finally had time to grab a moment to blog.

November is always a busy month with family birthdays, organising for Christmas, and the run up to Awards Night and Christmas Party at the writers' club.

I took on the role of Prose Secretary around this time last year just as a stop-gap, but I decided to carry on with the job, as next April I complete my three year stint as Chairman and have to hand over to whomever is standing for election to the role.

Occasionally I also get an opportunity to judge a competition- which I've just done.

Feedback is a vital tool in enabling writers to improve, and it was while I was typing up my notes that I realised how much I've learnt, not just from reading and writing, but from the generosity of other writers giving their time and experience- whether as a competition judge, during workshops, or even informative blog/website posts.

When I think back to my manuscripts 12 years ago, I can now see how much I've learnt- and still continue to learn of course.

I don't think we can ever have a total disconnection from our stories and characters, having lived with them so closely during the writing process. So a competition judge will be reading our work with a fresh perspective and will pick up the faults we might have missed. Because we know that's what our characters are thinking, it's easy to miss getting that over to our readers...

So in just under a month I'll be handing back a number of manuscripts from the club's annual competitions- ghost stories, romance, radio, and this year's non-fiction, article writing- and the first thing the majority of the writers will do is read the comments.

Admittedly we don't need to follow the judge's feedback completely, as there's bound to be things that we don't agree with- I was devastated one year when a judge said that one of my character's who was dead was the most interesting, and then the next judge who read it liked it, and awarded it first place.

My current work in progress was entered in this year's bi-annual Romance Novel competition, so the judge's comments on the synopsis and first 3 chapters will be very helpful when I get to the revision stages.

I'll tell you how my entry got on after the December 3rd evening...

Meanwhile there's still a lot to do, and writing to get on with. :-)






14 comments:

catchingcottonclouds said...

From now on you shall be known as Bevitt The Busy!

You're right to say that we never stop learning as writers. I think that we can all identify with how less-than-polished our early attempts must have been, but there's a great satisfaction to be had from improving and, somehow, there is that perpetual motivation to produce work of a higher and higher calibre. We start building sheds, but by the end we should be able to build palaces.

Helen Laycock

Carolb said...

That's a brilliant description of the process of learning and improving our writing.

I think I'm building a house at the moment then. :D

Patsy said...

I agree that we can learn a lot from giving and receiving feedback - and that we don't have to automatically follow any suggestions we're given.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Oh my... Competitions are a minefield aren't they? But as you say its a good way of learning if you get good feedback. A thick skin is sometimes required.

Teresa Ashby said...

I think that was a very harsh thing for that judge to say, Carol. I'm glad your story went on to win a first place!
Constructive feedback though is invaluable.
Good luck with your entry :-) x

Carolb said...

Exactly, Patsy. Though I think it's hard to trust our own assessments of our writing in the early years; it's something that develops with time. :)

Carolb said...

I always try to be fair when judging, and I've no problem with a writer not agreeing, but it is still a minefield as you say Pat.

And yes, a thick skin is sometimes required. :)

Carolb said...

Constructive feedback is invaluable as you say,Teresa. I don't think the story was right for that particular judge. :)

I'm looking forward to Awards Night... :)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Competitions are good to enter and to judge as we can learn a lot - as long it's all constructive and not destructive. Have a great month of business, Carol!

Carolb said...

Thanks, Rosemary.

Yes, constructive comments are helpful, and the great thing about writers is they are always willing to help. :)

lizy-expat-writer said...

I admire your ability actually to write judgements on other people's work! I wrestle for hours with just the short works on OWC when I'm in the hot seat.

Keith Havers said...

Is your 3 years up already? Great news that you're carrying on as Prose Secretary.

Carolb said...

Lizy, it's often easier to see what works, and what needs adjusting in other people's work than our own. :)

Carolb said...

Yes, it's amazing how time passes Keith. It hardly seems like three years has gone by.

As long as everyone votes me back into the Prose Secretary post, I'll carry on- got to keep me out of mischief somehow. :D