95. Build Your Feedback Resilience

What do you do when someone criticizes your work?

How do you react when someone says your book idea isn’t that great or when you get a negative review on Amazon?

When you have a high level of feedback resilience, none of those circumstances will knock you off your game.

In this episode, discover how to develop your feedback resilience so you can write the book your heart desires without unnecessary stress or angst.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

Mentioned in This Episode

Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.

Complimentary Consultation Call

Complete Author Coaching (1:1 Coaching)

Episode Transcript

Hey there, and welcome to Nothing but the Words, I’m your author, Coach Candice L. Davis. I hope your week and your writing are both going extremely well.

Depending on how old you are, you might remember a time when TLC—the television channel, not the girl group—was actually The Learning Channel.

The daily line-up was filled with educational shows, including medical programs, and those programs included lots of shows where surgery was performed on camera.

One day, I found my older daughter, who was eight or nine years old at the time, sitting in front of our family room television, watching a doctor slice into the body of a patient.

When I asked what she was doing, she told me, “Since I want to be a doctor, I have to get used to seeing blood and surgery.”

At the time, I had zero tolerance for watching that kind of stuff, but I sat down and watched it with her.

My tolerance grew and so did hers.

Twenty years later, watching surgery on TV doesn’t bother me at all. And she is indeed a doctor—no interest in being a surgeon though—and she’ll finish her residency this year.

I have no idea where my daughter got the idea of building her tolerance at such a young age.

Someone may have told her to do it but who knows?

What I do know is there’s value in building your tolerance in that way. And for authors, building your tolerance for what feels like criticism is essential.

Here’s what I mean.

A lot of authors worry about bad reviews or people criticizing their book.

Yes, those things will happen.

However, I’ve seen authors stop promoting their books because they got one bad review.

I’ve seen authors give up writing because one person told them their manuscript wasn’t good enough.

I’ve even known people who never started writing their book at all because someone told them their book idea was stupid, overdone, or unimportant.

Even if you think you could never be one of those authors, I want to invite you to intentionally grow your feedback resilience.

“Feedback resilience” is a term I coined to describe your ability to take feedback, good or bad, apply it as you see fit, and get back to the work of writing or promoting your book.

Years ago, when an author I admired read my work and wrote back to me three simple words, “You can write,” I felt validated.

It was like I finally had the stamp of approval I’d been seeking.

But I also froze for a while.

She certainly gave me other more specific and useful feedback, but it took me weeks to even apply it.

Because she had already said I could write, I was afraid to apply her feedback and mess it up.

I was afraid it wouldn’t be good enough.

It took me weeks to get myself to a place where I could write more and submit my work to her again.

When you’ve developed feedback resilience, you won’t be thrown off your game by praise from someone you admire.

Of course, most of us fear the opposite extreme.

And yes, I’ve also had experiences when I’ve been told my writing was juvenile and overly simplistic.

Because I didn’t have a tremendous amount of respect for that particular critic, those words had very little impact on me.

Had they come from someone whose opinion I respected, I’d have been crushed in my early days of writing.

There’s nothing wrong with having an emotional reaction to feedback, good or bad. That’s a perfectly human response.

But when you’ve developed your feedback resilience, you can process that reaction and get back to work.

The best way to develop feedback resilience is—no surprise here—to get feedback.

My younger daughter is a professional dancer. She spent years studying classical ballet and then contemporary dance.

Corrections from her teachers were a part of her daily life.

She learned at an early age to take feedback and use it to grow as a dancer. She also learned when to dismiss feedback that came from someone who had an agenda other than seeing her improve.

Without those corrections and her willingness and ability to apply it, she wouldn’t be the stunning dancer she is now.

So what am I telling you beyond the fact that I raised two amazing young women?

First, whenever you receive feedback, consider the source and consider their motives.

Who is this person? Do they know anything about writing books? Do they understand the genre in which you’re writing? Do they have any relevant experience? Are they anything like your one perfect reader?

And what are their motives? I’ve had clients whose parents told them not to get overly invested in their books because no one would want to buy them.

Those parents weren’t trying to crush their adult children’s dreams. They were trying to protect them. Not super helpful, but also not a reason to stop writing and marketing their books.

Is this person praising your book because they love it or because they love you? Neither is wrong, but when you develop feedback resilience, you can put that kind of praise in its place and not become overwhelmed or paralyzed by it.

Consider who the person is, their relationship to you, and their motives.

Second, have a source of reliable feedback.

My husband blows no smoke about my writing. Sometimes I wish he would.

But he’s an experienced writer and he gives me feedback from a place of experience and a place of wanting me to produce the best work I possibly can.

That’s incredibly valuable. I also have a circle of experienced writers and published authors to whom I can reach out at any time to get feedback on my writing. We help each other in this way.

I provide this same service to my coaching clients. Join a group coaching experience like mine, hire me for one-on-one feedback. Or find the coach who’s the right fit for you.

I spent more than $50,000 on writer’s workshops early in my career because I valued feedback so much.

If you went back and read some of my early writing, you’d see a tremendous difference between where I started and where that feedback got me.

A reliable source of feedback is someone who’s experienced and knowledgeable and someone who points out your strengths, not just your opportunities for growth.

And let me just say this. Strong, helpful feedback never has to be nasty or mean.

I’ve seen writing teachers who didn’t feel like their job was done until they made someone cry.

I don’t care how brilliant that person seems, run in the other direction if they have that “tough love” way about them. Too often, it does more harm than good, and even if it’s not hurting you, it’s likely hurting someone in the room or someone they’re coaching.

Third, feel what you feel and then separate the feedback and your writing from you.

Express it, feel the emotion in your body, journal about it, talk it out.

All these activities can help if the feedback hurts or even when it’s so good that it scares you.

Then, ask yourself if the feedback might be fair and merited.

If so, why do you feel hurt or scared by it?

What would happen if you applied it?

Are you overwhelmed?

Do you need help figuring out how to apply it?

In the best circumstances, the person giving you the feedback can also help you implement it. If not, find someone who can. There’s always help available if you look for it.

Here’s the final thing I suggest you do in order to build your feedback resilience.

It took me years to figure this one out, and it has made all the difference.

Practice believing you can learn something from any feedback you get, even if you learn nothing more than this isn’t the person you should go to for constructive criticism.

Practice believing the feedback you get has nothing to do with you as a person or your value or your worth.

When you can really integrate those beliefs and return to them every time you get a response to your book idea or a reaction to your first few pages or a book review, you’ll be able to write any book you want to write with so much less stress and struggle.

That’s all for this week’s episode, my friends. For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @CandiceLDavis.

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach Candice L. Davis, and I’ll see you next time.

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