Thursday, June 6, 2013

Feedback Fatigue

*yes this is my dog Sophie :)
How do you know when you've gotten enough feedback on your work? Or even worse, when you've gotten too much feedback and you are so over-saturated with advice that you are drowning in it! Basically when do you stop asking for critiques?

Well the obvious answer is when you are happy with your work. But let's face it, we crazy writers are almost never happy with our work. Some of us, myself included will edit ourselves to death. We keep asking for feedback in hopes of finding some new angle to fix. And then sooner or later you are reaching the point of over-saturation. You have so much advice, you don't know which end is up.

I know! Because I'm there!

I've had so much feedback on my query and first page that I'm almost lost. I feel like a yo-yo. I'm constantly going back and forth between modifications and I can't seem to please everyone. Which is fine because I shouldn't try to please everyone. I should try to clear up any confusion I'm seeing from multiple readers, polish it off, and hopefully find my happy place... hopefully. Because if I don't Feedback Fatigue may be the death of me... literally!

So how do you know if you have the dreaded Feedback Fatigue?

If you've reached the point of confusion and have multiple options on your query letter and first pages, and they are all just slightly different you've probably gone too far. A few minor tweaks here or there is probably not going to make or break your query or first pages. So take a step back, take a deep breath, and relax.

If you've reached the point where you change something and then get a comment that makes you want to go back to your previous revision. You might also have gone too far. When you start yo-yoing on your edits and constantly waver between two options, you've either gotten too much advice or you aren't listening to your gut. Not every piece of advice is meant to be followed and if you do follow everything it will make you crazy. So just stop, take a deep breath, and find what resonates with you, then ignore the rest.

If you've had so many people comment on your work that you've lost count, you've probably had too much feedback. When it comes to feedback sometimes less is more. Using a small group of trusted (key word trusted) critique partners instead of the masses can sometimes be in your favor. Will that group see every issue? Probably not, but they will catch a majority of the major stuff and it will save you the insanity of trying to sort through comments that may or may not be helpful.

So writers, stop beating yourselves up and driving yourselves crazy. Writing is never going to be perfect, so stop trying to make it that way. Do the best you can, find the happy place, and avoid the wicked Feedback Fatigue.

Have any of you ever experienced feedback fatigue? And if so how did you deal with it?


  1. Regarding my query, yes, I did have Feedback Fatigue.

    Here's what I did. I entered a contest where I got an agent's feedback on my query. Then I went to a pitch workshop held by an agent. When those two different agents said the pitch was good, I forced myself to agree with them...even though later a beta reader offered about 12 pieces of advice on places it wasn't working. So even though I didn't ask for feedback from that beta reader, it was still an internal fight not to jump in and work on at least some of her points.

    I haven't felt Feedback Fatigue so much on my ms yet, but I've also stuck with a small group of CPs. So maybe that's the real key.

    1. yeah I've had a couple of agents say my query is good, so i should just stop. But for some reason I can't and now have two versions of my query. I'm a mess :P But glad to see I'm not the only one who has reached this point.

  2. Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I really just focused on the advice of one trusted CP for this query, and that seems to have worked for me. I also had to accept that my query probably wasn't my problem and that some agents just don't like verse. The temptation was to keep tweaking and I don't think it really would have improved my requests more than it just would have driven me insane. There are some bits that I'd still be happy to tweak, and feedback "from the masses" has shown me that but in the end it's my query and sometimes you just have to step back and say "enough".

    1. I 100% agree. I've definitely reached the point of insanity on several occasions. And you are right sometimes is not the query at all. You just have to resist the urge to keep tweaking and know when to say enough like you said :)