Yesterday I got revision notes from one of my favorite editors for a short story, and spent an hour in a Skype conversation with a Trusted Reader ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLOBE about another story. (Digression: I love Skype. It's pure magic.) The feedback from both gentlemen was invaluable, and will make both stories much stronger.
I always feel energized and full of new ideas after getting revision notes, so you'd think that I would have sought out other forms of feedback early in my writing career. Sadly, no. Working with Trusted Readers is a fairly new tactic for me. For various reasons, I had a long-held aversion to letting anyone see a story before it was "ready." And since no story ever feels "ready," it can be very difficult to let go of it.
Getting feedback during the writing process is helpful in several ways:
- It's a form of aversion therapy. Doing something that feels uncomfortable gradually stretches the boundaries of your comfort zone.
- You're more likely to finish a project. Once it becomes easier to submit your work, you're less likely to spin your wheels in the Endless Revision Loop or get mired in the Procrastination Swamp.
- You'll gain perspective. Someone who's outside of the story can point out problems that you're too close to see.
- If something in the story bothered you but you're not sure why, chances are someone else will be able to identify the reason.
- Social interaction is one of the most powerful motivators for habit acquisition, and writing success is about 90% good habits.
- Feedback is energizing, both emotionally and mentally. Whether it comes from a good editor or an insightful reader, you'll tackle the story with new energy and new ideas.