The Right Time for Feedback

My favorite thing about attending conferences is meeting people and hearing about what they’re working on.

My second favorite thing is telling people about what I’m working on. I’m passionate about my work and excited to tell people about it. When the work is something as personal as a book, I’m also a bit nervous. How will they respond to the ideas? Do they make sense? Are they clear? Are they helpful? Do they have traction?

Writing is a lonely activity. I’ve spent long hours developing the ideas in the book, with the voices I’m referencing and synthesizing as my only company. Getting these ideas out in the world where others can respond immediately gives me useful feedback. It helps me temper my attitudes and the ways I express myself.

When and how I get this feedback is important. When the ideas and structures are already well developed, feedback can help me understand which need more explanation or development. Early feedback can also be useful, but I prefer to constrain it to a small group of people who already understand the space I’m exploring; I don’t want to risk closing off avenues of exploration prematurely. And feedback that comes late in the process is also less useful to me; at this point, I’m looking to wrap up the work. I can’t address suggestions for major changes at this stage. Unless something seems seriously off, I must press on.

I always welcome feedback — with the awareness that the stage the project is in affects how I interpret responses and what I can do with them.