What You Didn’t Know Can Hurt You


Six Train’s sequel is decimating me. What I thought was a good second draft isn’t. And I’m trying to balance my vision for the story against my betas’ comments.

I’ve run the emotional gamut from let’s burn this entire manuscript and stop the series to maybe it’s not so bad to oh my goodness I’ll never get this right and back again.

Luckily, I’m also working on my revision workshop for schools. I included a section on processing feedback. When I was practicing the talk, I remembered this is just how I do it. I don’t think it’s the best way, but it’s my way.

It’s also awful and draining. I hate going through this. But this is the only way I can get through feedback. I ride an emotional rollercoaster until it’s done. So I’ve just got to strap myself in for another 8-10 weeks of feeling every high and low.

And then I get a break before I do it all over again with my editor.

In case you were wondering, I don’t  get better at processing feedback. I get quicker. The same grueling emotional experience applies–just at a much faster pace.

I know feedback is necessary for the story. I know it’s part part of the writing process. It’s just difficult to change my perspective on a deadline. To hear all that isn’t working and then come up with solutions that work for the story. The entire time I’m battling all the self doubt that comes along with it.

Do I appreciate my beta readers? Absolutely. I need test readers to tell me what is and isn’t on the page. To show me what I’m showing them. Have we remained friends after every beta session? Of course. They are doing me a massive favor. Even if it takes a few months to smile about it.

How do you work through feedback?

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27 Responses to What You Didn’t Know Can Hurt You

  1. Jeannie says:

    Hang in there you well get it cause you are good writer

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Like you, I still go through all the ‘stages’ of feedback, but I do it at a much quicker pace too. I don’t have time to put it away for two weeks to think about it. I read through it, go through my range of emotions, then start making changes the next day (maybe even sooner). Good luck with it all. As you say, this stage will pass, and eventually our story gets to where it needs to be.

    • I wish I was one of those lucky people who is good with feedback. So not my personality type. I try to give myself 3-5 days to process it, but that’s all I can allot. Yup. Today the first 120 pages felt better. I’ve been working on them for a week. Somehow I added 20 pages but I’m cutting again. Yup, it’s just getting through this and not panicking. Because this is how it happens. All part of the process to get the story good. 🙂

  3. I am right there with you. I am on revision #3 (or is it 4?) of the novel I thought was all wrapped up last summer (2041) when it went to my publisher. Arghh!!! Self-doubt, burn-the-thing, why-am-I-even-doing-this… the hardest part, for me, is remaining true to my original vision (or even recalling what that vision was) while absorbing all the feedback.

    Hang in there!

    • Aw sorry you’re here, but glad I’m not alone! Yes, finding that balance. Once I switch perspective I can get too hack happy and cut some of the core of my story in my frenzy to fix it. I hate those days where I doubt everything I’m doing. I just thank goodness I have all my drafts. I never revert back to them, but I like knowing I can. 😉

      Hugs. You’ll get through this too. You are an amazing author!

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    For me, it doesn’t get easier. I hope it’s getting quicker. But there’s still that “kick in the gut” when betas don’t “get” the story the way we intended or suggest our vision might not be working for readers the way we wanted. That’s just hard all around.

    You’re a complete professional, so I know you’ll find the right best story for Book 2. Remember, though, that sometimes our guts still trump a beta’s suggestions. We shouldn’t turn a story into something it’s not. Hang in there—you’ll get there! 🙂

    • Part of me wishes I was one of those people that was good with feedback. I wonder how that feels. I took a few days to process the comments and at first I was like nope, not seeing it. Now it’s yeah, um wow. Did I do that? I think my problem is that I structured the story thinking it had to be done a certain way and now I see nope that initial assumption was wrong and so it dominoed into wrongness. I’m struggling with the book in sections at least. It took me a week to get the beginning to a decent place. Still have 2 days to go on the initial 100 pages.

      Aw thank you. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those times. The betas were right, the beginning isn’t working. There are issues throughout, but the beginning is the big hurdle. I made some really big mistakes there. 🙁 Thanks. I just have to keep reminding myself this is how I do it. It’s like wrestling a gator in pudding.

  5. I can commiserate.

    I’m going through this with Book 3 of my series. I hate it. I don’t even know what my vision for it is anymore. I thought I knew, but then I wrote it and it’s just not what I wanted. I’m terrified to send it to my betas. Thankfully, my deadline is still a bit far off, but oh man. Writing is hard.


    • It sounds bad, but that’s really good to hear. It makes me feel more normal. Last week I really didn’t think I could fix this book. I keep losing my vision and my certainty too. My first draft was all wrong. Now my second is too. But I think I can fix it. Or at least I hope I can. I’m gambling on this new approach working. I’ll know in 6 weeks. Revising can really suck the fun out of writing.


  6. EllaDee says:

    Ouch, yes, sometimes feedback -personal or professional- can hurt! For me it depends much on the motivation and perspective of the sharer. If I ask for the feedback I try to be appreciative. If not, or if it’s about them not me, then after my ruffled feathers settle, I get on with it!

    • Yes it can. 🙂 That definitely impacts how personal it feels too. With beta comments, I know the book needs them. It’s like fish oil, you learn the tricks to stomach it but it still never settles well. Good approach!

  7. Rhonda Lane says:

    Honest feedback from people with good Spideysense still stings, but it’s immensely valuable, too. Let your emotions run their course. Hang in there. {{{hugs}}}

  8. You can do it! Rewriting can be so stressful but just know you’re making the book the best it can be so it will be worth it in the end!

  9. Lori says:

    Oh how grueling. Before I moved, I had my critique group for feedback. I never handled it well, emotionally, I mean. But, like you, I worked out the bugs from that feedback and was always grateful. However, I have a difficult time deciphering between what is merely opinion and what really does need work. Do you ever struggle with that? Sometimes when I saw the feedback on the other authors work in our group, I didn’t always agree with their assessment. To me, their feedback was a matter of taste, not a problem with the work from that author. Does this make any sense? I don’t know if I’m explaining myself clearly.

    I’ve also had a beta reader find things that were said to need work, but all the other beta readers pointed out the same areas as well done. It tends to confuse me. How do you decipher? I mean, some things I’ve had suggested would change my entire author’s voice.

    It’s good that you’ve accepted the emotional roller coaster as a part of the process and just plow ahead. I admire your hard work and dedication.

    • It is hard to figure out what is personal taste vs. actual story issues. Generally if all the betas point to an issue or ask for a change to the same area, I know there’s a problem there. Sometimes the solution they suggest isn’t right for the story I want to tell, but the issue is still real and valid. It’s up to me to stay true to the story but also make sure I address the underlying problem. For me the hardest part is changing perspective, going from seeing it as a good second draft to a draft in need of serious overhaul.

      If no one else has an issue with something but one beta does, I tend to take my time with the feedback from that beta to make sure it’s not a personal issue.

      In the end it’s my story and I want to tell it the best I can. If a suggestion feels wrong to me, I sit on it. Usually the stuff I react strongest to is either 100% right or 100% wrong. Time will help me see which it is.

      Thanks. I don’t know that this is a good way to process feedback, it’s simply the only way I can do it. So I get on board and ride the roller coaster.

  10. Stick to it, Kourtney; you can do this! Writing is just plain hard, but you’re a writer and you’ll figure this out. Getting feedback always makes me cringe… good or bad. 😉

    • Thanks Dawn. It can be so fun, but it can be so hard. Every time I fix something, it spirals. But I’ve 20% through the manuscript right now. there is a light way down at the end of the tunnel and I do think I’m making it better. Fingers crossed.

  11. Feedback. Sigh. Just trudge on through. Each step gets you closer to the mountain top and clear blue view.

    • Yes. There is only one way through it. The first 200 pages need complete overhaul. I’m in the 100-200 page range now. I’d like to get the initial pass done in 5-6 weeks so I have time to go through it all again. 😉

  12. Feedback is always hard. I recently had some that made me doubt everything, but then in a strange way it spurred me on and re-awakened my creativity, which I’d struggled with all year. Hang in there, the first book was great, TGWIG is great, you’ll get there with this one too!

    • Yes. I felt the same way. I’m going to burn this book was a serious consideration for a moment. I’m finding the same thing. As I change things I suddenly see what has to happen next. I feel like I back in my storyworld again and really connecting. At least i hope so. You keep going too! Aw thank you. I promise each book took lots of revisions to get there. I just have to breathe, pace myself and keep going every day.

  13. Pingback: #5onFri: Five Tips for Processing a Negative Critique - DIY MFA

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