Share these guiding principles with those to whom you intend to show your work, and be certain they’re comfortable abiding by them. Read them yourself before commenting on a friend’s work.
1. Be Nurturing.
Remember, the only reason to offer feedback is to support the writer and his or her work. This is not a test of your ability to pick out flaws. Don’t be smart. Be gentle. Don’t show off. Be fair.
2. Be Balanced.
Always begin with the positive -- with what you like about the piece, with its strengths, with what works for you. With that foundation of support, you can then offer constructive comments. Remember, you can say anything you feel called to say about the work, as long as you frame it with respect and compassion.
3. Be Specific.
You’re at your most helpful when you can offer examples from the text of what works and what doesn’t. Be clear.
4. Be Respectful.
Give only the type and level of feedback the writer has sought. If there are other elements you would like to comment on, ask permission. Respect the answer you get.
5. Be Compassionate.
Remember the Golden Rule of Feedback: “Speak unto others in the manner you would have them speak unto you.” Put yourself in the writer’s shoes and offer feedback as you would prefer to receive it.
Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson
• Companion Piece: The Healthy Way to Seek Feedback for Your Writing
• Coming March 3 via teleconference: The Voice of the Muse Coaching Group for Writers. Last chance today to save!