Don't Bite Your Tongue, Hit Me With Your Worst

Creating something without feedback is a good way to get bad results. If your creation is good but you assume it's bad, the bad results will be failing to share something that others would appreciate. If your creation is bad but you assume it's good, the bad results will be sharing something that is not (yet) something that other people will enjoy. Creators are poor critics of their own work. Without feedback from other people, it's up to luck to correctly identify good or bad work and act accordingly. This should be obvious, right? Unfortunately, many people seem to not understand it. I've seen creators unwilling to accept thoughtful critiques from others, and I know that people can be hesitant to give negative feedback on a creative work, especially if the creator is a family member or close friend.

To creators who aren't open to feedback, I say “tough luck”—you're paving your own path to poor results. However, to others who are in a position to give feedback—especially to me about my creative works—I say “bring it on!” I want to know the absolute worst about my work, because that is where my attention is most needed. If you notice that a character's behavior does not match the character I've built up in your mind, I'd much rather know about that than to hear about a questionable comma. If I use the wrong character's name (which I've seen in other books, but hopefully have never done myself), I'd rather learn about that than to receive a suggestion about where a long paragraph might be split into two paragraphs.

If you care about me, or if you just care about authors delivering top quality work to the reading public, hit me with your worst! Tell me the most awful things about my books. Preferably this will happen before they're published (which is why I'm always eager to find more beta readers), but even after a book is on the market it's not too late for me to learn from negative feedback about it. I might go back and fix the book in question (for example, a missing “the” in Lesson One: Revolution! will be fixed in the next release), or I might just make a mental note to avoid mistakes of the same nature in future books.

You're not doing me any favors by hiding problems from me. Naturally I want people to like my stories and not find anything wrong with them, but I'm human, I make mistakes, and I can't fix mistakes unless I know about them. To borrow the (controversial?) anti-terrorism slogan, “if you see something, say something.” If there's something about one or more of my books—published or in progress—that would make you avoid recommending the book to your best friend, I really do want to know. My ego has learned to take a back seat to thoughtful critiques, so send them my way! Actually, even thoughtless critiques are OK, because I've learned to discard them if they have no value, but I don't expect that the type of person who will be reading my blog to be the type to make thoughtless critiques.

Photo credit: gracey via

About the Author
Stuart J. Whitmore is an author of fiction and nonfiction, as well as a photographer, technology developer, and more. If you enjoy reading his blog posts, you might also enjoy reading his books. Take a look at the books by Stuart J. Whitmore today, and download your copy of one that looks interesting to you!