Round two of the sharing, feedback, listening, and inner critic series! (Part one, on sharing, when I realized this would end up being a series, can be found here.)
When you think about feedback, what immediately comes to mind? For me, it’s [constructive] criticism. How do I make something better? How do I improve or change it? It’s a questioning process designed to make something different from what it is.
But, in writing classes like this, the feedback is not critique focused. It’s content, emotion, reflection. Not, “do this and this and we can make it better.” There’s an understanding of sorts that this really tender piece came out and needs love and compassion, not hacking. And so, feedback takes on a different flavor than we traditionally understand it.
For me, feedback is one way to acknowledge being seen and heard, as well as acknowledging that another has been seen and heard. My favourite type of feedback often is what is called recall, which is repeating back pieces of the writing to the writer. For me, it let’s me listen and absorb, without getting in the way. It’s a way for me to share my experience, without it being about me. (Sometimes, this is hard for me. It’s a great skill to keep working on, though!)
Feedback can also be comments about the piece, or no feedback. But, the silence of “no feedback” still contains the words that are read and serve, in some ways, as a container for what has been shared and experience. It just may look very different.
I was asked by a student what s/he should do with feedback. It made me pause, because that’s a really good question. And, like many good questions, I don’t have any answers to it, but I can speak from my own experience.
Feedback is an important part of the process, because so often, I write in what feels like a void. Just me and the words, and they rarely come out to play. So, when writing in a group, I appreciate the experience of sharing and further appreciate the ability of others to reflect back what they heard. It’s a way of learning more about the piece, especially if I had moments of “That wasn’t me” while writing.
Depending on our lives, our jobs, and so many other circumstances, the process of seeing and being seen can be really hard, so for me, feedback from others is also a practice in receiving being seen, exactly as I am. I can choose to read or not read, or read only select parts of the writing, but regardless, I am sharing something about myself in this process. And receiving the time and space – even if the feedback is silence – is as much a practice as the writing itself is.
Sometimes, being seen and seeing others, as they are, is about not running away. And this, this is also part of the practice.
What is feedback for you? Tell me about your experience with feedback, either in this capacity or another.