If it weren’t for many tireless and generous readers of my work—authors, editors and agents—who gave me thoughtful, helpful feedback, I know I wouldn’t have seen such improvement in my craft. But choosing who will read my work is a task I take very seriously.

Thanks to writer and wonderful human, Jennifer Smith-Daigle, for sharing a post by author and speaker Elizabeth Gilbert, which includes four questions that I believe many of us intuitively ask when we feel ready to share our work with others:

  • Do I trust this person’s taste and judgment?
  • Does this person understand what I’m trying to create here?
  • Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?
  • Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?

Of the four, the second one is vital to me as a reader/instructor. When I’m leading workshops, it’s important to me that I’m understanding what the writer is trying to accomplish in his or her work. Only then can I provide feedback that will be helpful. This doesn’t mean I won’t make suggestions that may take the story in another direction, but it does mean those suggestions are usually within the scope of the writer’s vision. When they aren’t, it’s because I’m sensing a conflict of purpose or a willingness in the author to try anything. I see my job as supporting the author’s vision of the story, not telling them how I would write it if it was my story.  🙂

Is A Reader Worthy?

Since the writers don’t have a say in who is in a workshop, instructors usually try to establish an atmosphere of trust and respect up front. But if you are looking at individuals or a critique group for feedback, it really comes down to whether someone is worthy of of your trust, of reading your work. And on the other side, whether you have developed the skills and sensibility to be worthy of another’s trust.

Often you may not be able to ascertain the answers to these questions immediately. It may take some time to observe them, get to know them, ask them other questions to see if there is a good fit. Other times your intuition will guide you.

Do you have other questions you ask when determining whether you are ready to trust someone with your work? If so, what are they?