Pondering feedback as a parent and as a writer

Recently I have been thinking about both the giving and receiving of feedback quite a bit, and thinking about why it is important and how it can help or hinder success. Here I look at receiving it, and another time I shall look at the giving of it (because otherwise this post will be mammoth!).

As a parent, nearly seven solid years of parenting practice I mostly know what I am doing, although things change all the time. Feedback comes from a variety of (not always welcome) sources; family, friends, other parents, strangers and my children. It seems to me that we don’t always prioritise it in the right way. How often do we put the feedback from our children first, above all others?

I know if I am ‘getting it right’ if they are happy and content, if they are carefree, if they are entertained, if they are imaginative, if they are behaving like children. This is obvious, it is right in front of my eyes. On the whole it is indirect, but the occasional unprompted ‘Mummy, I love you’ is completely worth that.

Of course, it’s sweet if the little old lady on the bus tells you you have beautiful, well behaved children (but she should see bathtime!). But some of the feedback I see bandied around on the internet, where there is apparently only one ‘right’ path…well it beggars belief. That isn’t to say we can’t give feedback at all, but we have to question if it is useful and valuable.

Feedback does help though, knowing that sometimes I get it wrong is not a negative thing. I can try to get it right next time. I often read about parenting, talk to friends about parenting, after I have recognised an issue. It helps me understand what might be going wrong, but ultimately it is my choice as to if I make changes to my parenting, and what they might be.

As a writer I receive feedback in numerous ways; comments on my blog and social media interactions, people sharing my work and the page views I have for my site. I often wonder about the genuineness of some of this feedback, the usefulness of it and how much value I put on it, in its various forms. I’m not sure I’m always prioritising it in the right way.

How does it help me become a better writer? I’m sure that occasionally self-promotion is dressed up as feedback. Other times it can be superficial or guarded, rather than constructive. And numbers, are they really feedback at all? What feedback about my writing should I be putting first, what is the most valuable form of feedback about my writing to me?

I feel that I am ‘playing a role’ rather than owning being a writer. But I can see that really it is just my general insecurities rearing their heads. Just as I have become less bothered by parenting feedback, through my years of practice, I will become more secure as a writer as I practice. Ultimately I just want to write, so sod the numbers (easier said than done).

I have become interested in not having a comments section through Renee at Mummy Tries, a lady I hugely admire. She has turned them off on her blog, to avoid the comments for the sake of them. Because if you really want to say something valuable there are other mediums for doing so. And because as mothers of three children we haven’t got much time. I know she’s right in a way.

However, to come full circle, in the same way that I am open to beneficial parenting feedback I am willing to receive comments on what I write, and I hope that I can master this craft. So I invite them, and value them, though I cannot hold them on a pedestal. I’m never going to reply to ‘great post!’. Having a conversation, a discussion about what I write can add value, and that is what I am striving for.

And soon I will turn my pondering to the giving of feedback; how well do I do it and how does it affect others?

Any thoughts? You know I’d love to chat about it;-)

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. I feel a bit under pressure with this comment now…great post! I’m joking.
    You make some very interesting points, particularly resonating for me is the value placed on feedback and whether I get my priorities right. It’s something, blogging-wise, I’ve been struggling with recently…starting to think more about numbers, rankings, mentions, nominations etc and almost getting to a point of checking them which is not a point I want to get to. I am happy doing what I’m doing and having confidence in that alone should be enough. I saw the explanation post Renee wrote about turning comments off. It did make sense, and it is also something I have thought about in a small way. But one of the things I really enjoy about blogging is the interaction, perhaps it is validation I don’t know, from the comments. As you say, as you feel more like you ARE a writer rather than playing the role of one feedback should become more and more useful as your work develops.
    Parenting-wise…yes i have wondered before now why feedback from strangers or friends or family members feels so special and important when really all I need to do is look at my happy boy and know I’m doing ok. My husband is fantastic at this, he is supremely confident in the way we are parenting because our son is happy…for him it’s simple. I think he’s more confident than me.
    So in both cases, I think feedback is interesting because the way you need it or respond to it hinges on confidence, because it can lead to an opportunity for discussion, because it can be a source of change and it can be a source of positive validation (which i think is fine if you’ve prioritised in a way that you’re happy with).
    Hmm long comment, sorry…interesting ideas.
    Lucy x

  2. Marija Smits says:

    When it comes to writing (which is really v. different to parenting) I do think that the most useful feedback will come from a professional editor that understands your writing and where you are coming from. It’s one of the parts of my publishing job that I most enjoy. 🙂

    1. Ah yes, Marija, I wasn’t comparing parenting and writing, just exploring that one led me to think about the other. I will have to ask your advice about editors when I get to that stage! Thanks for reading. x

  3. Tim says:

    Blog comments are tricky. Most commenters feel compelled to be constructive and positive because no one wants to be that person who just comes across as negative and aggressive or, worse still, gets labelled as a troll simply for expressing a difference of opinion or the slightest negative sentiment. In most cases (and I am the same), most people would rather not leave a comment at all than be too critical.

    But when you do find someone who is willing to give honest but constructive feedback, that’s like gold dust. They’re hard to find, though, and you’ll rarely find them in a comment box.

    1. It really is a tricky game, isn’t it Tim. I never want to offend anyone, (or be offended). Trolling is one thing though and a constructive comment another. I agree that honest feedback is, in truth, unlikely to come from comments, I just need too find that person or persons now! Thanks for reading.

  4. maddy@writingbubble says:

    I’ve often pondered about the honesty of comments. When I used to post a lot of my creative work, to begin with I loved the positive comments and they were exactly what I needed to build my confidence up. Sharing my work felt really exposing so I don’t think constructive criticism was really what I was after! Once I’d built up some confidence, it might have been useful but I think I’d prefer it behind the scenes rather than in comments section. I did get good at reading between the lines, especially with regular commenters and could tell a genuine ‘I love it!’ from a meh ‘I love it’ if you know what I mean! Another thought-provoking post, Alice – you’re good at these (and I mean that genuinely not in a ‘meh’ way!) Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting xx

    1. Maddy, I think your right about constructive feedback needing to be behind the scenes, no-one likes to lose face, but I think that honesty is invaluable. I know that I am he same as you about positive comments building confidence, but somehow I think that creates a false confidence, a false belief in ourselves, that may not be backed up in reality. I want to improve my writing, not churn out endless rubbish. I have a beta reader or two lined up and I think I will be looking for professional editing so that I don’t get carried away down the stream without a paddle. I think in truth that is why I am steering away from posting my creative writing on the blog now. xx

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