Positive Feedback

In my writing workshops, the writers choose what kind of feedback they need in the moment: positive, helpful, or no feedback.

My early feedback influences occurred during Ruth Grundle and Judith Barrington‘s Flight of the Mind summer workshops in the mid-1990’s. On the McKenzie River in Oregon, they championed a supportive and generous literary community, one that fostered curiosity and possibility in our own and each other’s work. There was no ripping someone’s story apart or telling them they couldn’t write. The energy centered on the writer and her intention with her work. It didn’t even matter if the writer wasn’t entirely clear where she was going with it. This was her journey to discover. If she wanted to invite us in, she could, but that was up to her. She was in the driver’s seat. She had the ultimate authority over her creative work and her creative process.

In their 2003 book, Liz Lerman and John Borstel‘s refined Critical Response Process (CRP) emphasizes the importance of positive feedback in fostering growth and creativity, providing a structured framework for giving and receiving feedback. It starts with statements of meaning and moves towards neutral questions and permissioned opinions. By focusing on the strengths of the work and the creator’s goals, this process creates a supportive environment where writers feel safe to take risks, explore new ideas, and collaborate. Integrating CRP principles into our writing communities can help us actively seek and provide constructive feedback that boosts confidence, identifies strengths, and nurtures creativity and success.

Actively seeking and providing positive feedback boosts confidence and motivation, helping writers identify their strengths and explore new ideas. However, finding a writing community can be challenging, especially if your writing is in its early stages or if you’re new to sharing your work with others. It also takes time and practice to understand the four steps of the CRP. As always, we start with where we are and with what we have.

When Your Circle is Your Only Feedback Source

If you haven’t yet connected with other writers, then the only available feedback may be from the people in your immediate circle. This can be challenging as the people closest to you may not always be the best source of feedback. But if they’re all you’ve got, there are a few ways you can get what you need.

The goal is to keep you writing, and knowing what’s working in your writing can be tremendously helpful. As you build your feedback skills (both giving and receiving), here are 15 ways to ask for positive feedback while making it clear that you’re not interested in critical feedback at this time.

15 Phrases to Ask for Positive Feedback and Encouragement

  1. “I’m sharing this piece of writing with you because I value your support and encouragement. At this early stage, I’m not looking for critical feedback, but rather your positive thoughts and overall impressions.”
  2. “I’d love for you to read my work and share what you enjoyed about it. I’m hoping to hear what resonated with you and what you found engaging.”
  3. “As a writer, it’s important for me to feel supported. If you’re willing, I’d appreciate it if you could read my work and share any positive observations or things that stood out to you.”
  4. “I’ve been working hard on this piece, and I’d like to share it with you. If you have a moment, I’d love to hear your general thoughts and any parts that you found particularly moving or enjoyable.”
  5. “Writing can be a vulnerable process, and right now, I’m in need of some encouragement. If you’re open to it, I’d be grateful if you could read my work and share any positive reactions you have.”
  6. “I’ve poured my heart into this piece, and I would appreciate hearing about any areas that touched you or made an impact.”
  7. “As a writer, there are times when I need a boost of confidence. If you’re willing, I’d be grateful if you could read my work and share any positive aspects that caught your attention.”
  8. “I’ve reached a milestone in my writing journey, and if you have a moment to read my work, I’d appreciate hearing about any elements that you found compelling or engaging.”
  9. “Writing can sometimes feel like a solitary pursuit, and I’d really welcome some community and support right now. If you’re up for it, I’d be grateful if you could read my piece and share any positive thoughts or reactions you have.”
  10. “I’ve been exploring a new style or theme in my writing, and I’m excited to share it with you. I’d love to hear about any aspects that resonated with you or left an impression.”
  11. “As a writer, a little encouragement goes a long way. If you’re up for it, I’d love to hear what stood out in my work in a positive way.”
  12. “Every writer has moments of doubt, and I’m having one of those days. If you come across anything that sparks your interest or makes you want to keep reading, it would help me to know.”
  13. “I’m at a point in my writing where I could really use some positive reinforcement. If you have a chance to read my work, I’d love to hear about the parts that you found most engaging or impactful.”
  14. “I’ve been pouring my energy into this piece, and I’m eager to share it with someone I trust. If you’re willing to read it and share your encouraging thoughts, I would be so appreciative.”
  15. “I have great respect for your perspective and insights, and I would be honored if you could read my latest piece of writing. At this stage, I’m seeking encouragement and positive feedback rather than a critical review. Your thoughts and impressions would mean a great deal to me.”

Encourage Others: Pay It Forward

When someone reads your work and shares their thoughts, consider returning the favor and showing appreciation. If they’re a writer, offer to read their work when they’re ready. If not, a simple “Let me know if I can support you” goes a long way. If they insist it’s unnecessary, accept their kindness and pay it forward by helping someone else. What goes around, comes around.

Approaching feedback with reciprocity and gratitude contributes to a literary community where everyone feels encouraged to pursue their passions and celebrate each other’s successes. It fosters growth without judgment, allowing us to remain curious and open.

The next time you share your writing or have the chance to support a fellow writer, remember that a little encouragement can make a big difference.

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