Yesterday was a good day.
I was still basking in the glow of the “fan letter” I posted on the blog when I headed off for work (yes, I started a new job – part-time so I can stay focused on writing).
Mid-way through the workday, the boss threw me a last-minute project that called for some fast creative copywriting. I did it, sent the file, and was eating leftover lasagna at my desk when the boss walked in beaming and holding the printout.
“This is why we hired you.”
Such a simple statement – only six words – but it totally made my week.
I’m going to go way out on the limb of total obviousness and say that humans need positive feedback to keep ticking.
Author Cynthia Reese and I have worked together as critique partners for 6+ years, and one thing we’ve always cited as a reason we work well together is that we both have hides of Teflon. We don’t get our feelings hurt, and we don’t flinch over negative feedback. We don’t need to be coddled with compliments or have criticisms sugar-coated in any way.
And yet when I get a critique back from her, I still feel warm and glowy each time I see those three little letters – LOL – inserted in random spots to indicate where something I wrote made her laugh out loud.
I don’t care if she follows it up with six pages of notes describing the precise method I should use to dig a hole in my backyard and beat myself over the head with the shovel until I fall in – those three little letters are enough to keep my spirits high.
There’s something called the “sandwich method” that’s common for writers doing critiques or judging contests. The idea is that you offer negative feedback “sandwiched” between two pieces of positive feedback, making the negative a whole lot easier to take.
I’m a big fan.
I’m not suggesting it should be done in a contrived way, or that you should offer anything insincere or meaningless. “I really like the way you capitalized the first word of each sentence,” will probably not achieve the desired result.
I’m also not suggesting you should limit it only to the writing world.
But even a small shred of something genuine and positive can be enough to buoy someone’s spirits. Newbie or New York Times bestseller, writer or non-writer, everyone needs to hear something nice about themselves. It’s easy to forget how much fuel a few simple words can offer, but they’re the things we store in our subconscious and drag out to keep us going out when setbacks threaten to crush us.
Do compliments make you warm and glowy? Do you try to offer them regularly to writing pals or loved ones, or is it tougher for you to do? Please share.
And hey – that’s a really nice shirt you’re wearing. Brings out the color in your eyes.