Last week I was working on a guest chapter for a friend’s book. He gave me the subject, I wrote the chapter. It was fun. But I just wasn’t feeling what I was writing. So I sent it to another friend whose writing skills I admire greatly – he’s about to get a book contract. I knew he’d steer me in the right direction. Here’s the text conversation we had after I sent that email: (It was very humbling…)
Friend: What’s this section of the book about?
Jonathan Malm: How apathy affects our lives.
Friend: Does he have a book contract?
Jonathan Malm: He’s self publishing.
Friend: Ya. Figured. If he had a contract I was gonna just give up.
Jonathan Malm: Haha. Whatya mean?
Friend: The writing is mediocre at best.
Jonathan Malm: Ahhh…I see you missed the part where that’s what I wrote….
You see, they thought they were editing something my friend had written. So they felt a liberty to criticize how badly written it was. But no…it was mine. It was humbling.
But I want that in my life. I want people willing to be honest with me. It wasn’t my best work. I was missing out on a very important element. And my friend walked me through what I needed to change. I’m convinced the chapter will be so much stronger with what I changed.
And unless my friend was willing to be brutally honest with me, I would have never known. I encourage you, get people in your life that will be brutally honest with you. Then respond humbly to their criticism – don’t get mad. Pretend you’re showing them someone else’s work if you need to. But get that honest feedback. Your art will be much stronger for it.