When I don’t get any feedback from the people with whom I’ve shared my creative work, it can hurt a lot worse than when they tell me they don’t like it. I need the feedback to get better, but asking repeatedly for it just alienates them. Over the years I’ve found ways to better understand and manage this unavoidable disappointment.
I’ve never had to motivate myself to write…I can’t stop. It’s always served as a solace for me. Writing poems, even bad ones, tends to soothe my soul, siphons off the times of desperation.
Planning novels is the most fun I have. Writing them can be drudgery, but it’s ultimately gratifying, like climbing a mountain. Editing them, revising them, polishing them, can be excruciating but also exhilarating, especially when I solve a major problem and wind up with a book that’s ten times better.
So the act of writing nurtures me. I’d write even if someone told me nothing I wrote would ever see the light of day. I’d write because I’d want to know how the stories ended, because I wanted to see the ideas expressed clearly.
The act of sharing is my attempt to further nurture myself by getting some kind of indication from someone other than myself that what I’ve done is worthwhile. But in this way, I think I’ve gotten myself into trouble before I’ve even begun. After all, if I know already that it’s been worthwhile, why would I ask someone else?
I think this cross-motivation is really the problem. When I am asking for feedback, I’m really asking for some kind of nurturance as well. And it should come as no surprise that, a) most people don’t want to give it to me and b) most people don’t want to have to reject such a request.
That puts my “victims” in a bad place. Not a great start to a feedback scenario. Where does that leave me?
Well, you have to ask for feedback or you don’t get it. And you have to ask from the people you have available to you, even if they’re not ideal. Managing the responses, or lack of them, is the real challenge.
If I admit that I’m really asking for more than just feedback on my material, I can understand and then accept the resistance or indifference from those I’ve asked. Alternatively, if I can avoid looking for nurturance when I ask for feedback, then a refusal or a ghosting doesn’t have to hurt. Either way, I can do what I have to do and survive the response, or lack of it.
As I get more successful, or clever, I can find ways to get feedback from people who actually want to give it to me. These are my fans, and little by little I’m finding them. Reviewers, too, if you can snag them, and editors, if you can pay them, will also share their opinion because it’s what they love to do.
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Adam Cole is a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books. Author, educator and performer, Adam chats weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and living your best life. To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net