If writers Want Feedback

Feedback helps by providing a reader’s perspective on the written words. However, the writing belongs to the writer, so the reader should ask what the writer is trying to say and what help he or she is seeking. Then, because the writer owns the writing, he or she should decide how to use the information.


Asking for feedback

  • First, share the writing without comment – either reading aloud or having your partner read silently, to provide a “clean” first impression.
  • Alternatively, your partner can read the piece aloud to you. This way, you’ll perceive the words in a fresh way.
  • Then let your partner know what you want. Perhaps it’s just a sympathetic listen. Or maybe you’re not sure of some part of the piece.
  • If you’d like to know if your ideas got across, ask your partner to restate what he or she understood you to be saying.
  • If you are ready for a critique, you might ask, “Is there anything you wondered about?” or “Was there something unclear or confusing?”
  • And remember, the writing belongs to you, so you can decide how to use the feedback.

Giving Feedback

  • First, simply listen or read carefully.
  • Then ask what kind of response the writer wants. Perhaps it’s just a good listener. Or maybe there’s some part he or she isn’t sure about.
  • You may not be a writing expert but explaining your understanding of the words and their effect on you shows the writer what the words did for you.
  • You are providing your own understanding, not an absolute judgment. So use “I” messages – “As I understand, you are saying . . .”
  • Start with something positive and end with something positive.