[The following is only a glimpse of the topic … not a transcription. Also, this episode is about 6 minutes long.]
In the last episode, I encouraged anyone who is in a position read and respond to a writer’s work to affirm, affirm, affirm what’s working. I’m not talking about a formal reviewer online or at a newspaper who is reviewing a book. I’m thinking of someone in a writing group who’s workshopping a short story or a someone giving a friend feedback about a poem. If you’re in that kind of situation—helping steer someone and encourage their growth as a writer—I recommended you err in the direction of honest affirmation.
Honest affirmation is kind of like clicker training for writers.
It works especially well when you have the luxury of taking a long-range view, trusting that over time, the writer will self-correct the more confident he grows from knowing what he does well.
Sometimes, though, we don’t get that much time and have to point out a few things that would ideally be changed, eliminated, tweaked or rearranged to improve a writing project.
The next best thing to rewarding the good with positive input and ignoring what’s not working is to put into place a 6 to 1 ratio of positive vs. negative feedback.
- Positive Reinforcement: Reward What Works (Ignore the Rest)
- The Writing Life Podcast – Affirm, Affirm, Affirm
- Bethany Rohde‘s comment about ideally offering a balance of both critique and affirmation
- Can You Cope with Criticism at Work?
- What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage
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