28 January 2015

Feeling Embarrassed When Receiving Feedback


Every time I allow someone to edit one of my manuscripts I feel somewhat mortified, especially when said manuscript is returned to me with a boatload of required corrections. I feel so stupid when obvious mistakes have been discovered (or at least they were obvious to the reader, but not to me) and I can't help but think to myself "OMG, I can't believe I missed THAT! This person must think one of my dogs wrote this piece."

The truth is, most of us feel ashamed to some degree or another when we receive feedback on our writings and mistakes have been pointed out. Negative messages such as "I must be a terrible writer! I'm surprised anyone would want to read this! Why do I bother writing?" may rush through our minds. But slowly I'm learning that I needn't feel this way! Because no matter how many books you've published, no matter how many years you've been writing, at some point all writers need help with editing...even seasoned, best-selling authors.We are human beings and we make mistakes, sometimes many. 

Here are some of the truths I'm learning to accept:

a) There is no such thing as a perfect initial draft! It just doesn't happen, it just doesn't exist, no matter how careful I write, regardless of how much research I do. I recently finished the initial draft of a non-fiction book about canine epilepsy and while I believe it to be a fairly clean draft, I know there will be much to edit once I receive my feedback. After all, the goal is to produce a great story - ergo, the more feedback, the better!

b) It's perfectly normal to feel discouraged! After I spent all this time working on my newest book, I want it to be as near to perfect as possible. But then I receive my manuscript back and I can't believe all the red ink all over it! It makes me want to cry and never write another word. It's normal to feel discourged at first. No one likes to get bad news. But once the first shock has subsided I'll go back to my manuscript and fix the mistakes. It's all about improving my writing!

c) You don't see your story the way your readers do! Fact is, I'm too close to my stories to see their flaws. I love my stories just the way I write them. Why? Because they are my creations! But if I want others to love them as well, I need feedback from others. Simple as that!

Well, let's hope that while I wait for some feedback I don't end up with a stress related migraine! It's hard for me not to stress out when I anticipate news about my work.  =)

How do you feel after receiving feedback? Has it made you feel horrible about your writing?

Piper is the author of military lifestyle books and RV travel journals. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.


  1. I am no more than an average really good writer. But, I love my own writing so much that when I am criticized I get angry. My first reaction is to wonder why the client doesn't appreciate it as much as I do. That is, of course, a non-productive attitude. So, wanting to continue earning money from the client, I accept the criticism and make the changes.

    I suspect that I have some lack of confidence because I also respond glowingly to any compliments on what I have written. It is more important to me than it should be. Our human flaws present themselves in one way or another. :)

  2. I know the feeing intimately. Just today, I received two edits of manuscripts from my writing coach. I say Amen to A, B, and C, especially C - Readers don't see the story the way I do, and I must get the two to be a closer match, I guess. Feeling discouraged, now encouraged, well just a little bit. ; - /

  3. Yes, Piper, I know the feeling. I used to feel the same way. Then I worked with an editor who showed respect for my story and made suggestions in the kindest possible way. I not only took his advice but I welcomed his suggestions. The result was an even better novel and an improvement in my writing.
    That is why I remember two pearls of wisdom. One is that an author can never edit her own work. The other is that Hemingway said that the first draft is shit.
    It helps me keep perspective.

  4. As a (freelance) copy-editor and proofreader, I love working on books and short stories. While I will make suggestions, something I will never do is criticise an author, nor do I think 'what an idiot' when I correct a mistake, no matter how obvious it may be. A. Piper (sorry, I'm not quite sure what to call you), I understand your feelings and your points (a, b, c) are bang on - so I'd like to add something: remember that an editor/proofreader won't be judging you.

    D(d)reamlady, I love your comment; I enjoy engaging with my clients, it's what my work is all about.

  5. As a freelance copy-editor and proofreader, I enjoy working on books and short stories more than anything else. While I will make suggestions, something I will never do is criticise an author, nor do I think 'what an idiot' when I'm correcting errors, no matter how obvious they may be. A. Piper (sorry, I'm not sure what to call you), as I have a qualification in creative writing I can see this from both sides, so I understand your feelings and think your points (a, b, c) are bang on. And I would like to add something: remind yourself that an editor/proofreader isn't judging you - it may feel as if they are but they're not, they're merely doing a job.

    D(d)reamlady, I like your comment very much; I enjoy engaging with my clients, it's what my work is all about.

  6. The sample you show is so much editing as re-writing it for you: "answer" instead of "look into" might not fit; was it really an "underhanded accusation" or an "insinuation"? They are not the same thing. You need to consider their SUGGESTIONS and decide which is best.
    However, if you get editing that shows you are making a lot of technical errors, take some composition classes at your local community college and build your skills. And know, even the best writers slip up at times and even the best proofers miss some errors - especially when the story is riveting.

  7. I certainly felt that way with my first novel. How dare they insult my 'baby'! I had to admit they were right. My second novel is in the hands of the editor/proofreader and will probably go along with her suggestions.

  8. Honestly I've been too terrified to submit to any editing. Part of it is my own arrogance, still need to learn that humility thing. But the other part is I am scared to put my sweat and tears on the line. Your post makes sense. The logical side of me says "Yup she's right"...the other side says oh no...not a chance! Anyways, excellent post. Gives hope to my some day monumental (insert sarcasm) works...