Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Of Egg, Cress, and Praise Sandwiches


Receiving feedback on your writing is essential if you want to improve. But the art of receiving this feedback in good faith and humour is a developmental process.

When you first share your writing with others, it is entirely probable that you are in no mood for honest reactions. (Or was that just me?)

Feedback sessions at the writing group
were sometimes a little scary

Like it or not, it’s something you need to get used to. The proverbial praise sandwich (with a large mug of tea and extra sweeteners for the hard of hearing) is something you should find at any good writing group or forum, and it is something you should fill up on while you have the chance. There is nothing like a boost to your confidence, and the age-old sandwich recipe (two fat slices of praise filled with a tiny dollop of criticism) is great for this.

The doorstep sandwiches I ate in writing groups stood me in good stead when I ventured into the world of professional feedback and found the bread a little thinner in relation to the filling. 

But today my lunch was a rather delicious egg and cress filled baguette; the egg was soft and creamy; the cress peppery with a little crunch. Perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a more sublime filling. And that’s when I had a revelation. 

You can put egg and cress between brown or white, baguette or barm cake, wholegrain or seedy - it’s the egg and cress which define the experience. 

Sitting on your backside and eating up the compliments is all very good, but it's the bit in the middle of the praise sandwich that's of real value. That is the bit you need to get right; the bit you need to give serious thought to. If it doesn't work for your reader, you need to ask why.

To improve as a writer, ultimately  it maybe necessary to dispense with the bread completely; I don't know if I am ready for that yet. I am still learning to love the filling.


4 comments:

  1. Ha! Oh so true. Unlike egg and cress though, I feel the virtues of critical feedback become more apparent, and indeed easier to swallow, after a week or so ...
    Another great post, Wendy - really enjoyed it. x x

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    1. Thanks Kate - yes, time is a great healer (except as you say, where egg and cress are concerned.)

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  2. Spot on again, Wendy. Critical feedback is an essential step on the ladder to good writing. The thicker the filling the more satisfying the sandwich - so long as you trust the baker.

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    1. Although all fillings are worthy of consideration - it's just that some are more nutritious than others... Oh heavens, enough of this sandwich metaphor. It's making me eat.

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