Have you been shredded recently?
Recent research suggests that “brainstorming,” i.e. throwing out whatever comes to mind without stopping to evaluate, organize or second-guess helps the people who do it feel better. However, it does not result in a better end product.
Constant criticizing and demanding improvement even when progress has been made, known as “shredding” has been shown to be an effective way lead to a superior result.
I remember how hurt Jo March in Little Women felt when she got feedback about her story from Mr. Dashwoods, even though eventually he paid for and published the story.
Imagine how she would have felt if the editor had been Steve Jobs who expressed his role at Apple as follows:
“We have an environment where excellence is really expected. What’s really great is to be open when [the work] is not great. My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.”
Of course he once famously berated a girl scout who was trying to sell cookies for pushing “junk food.” I’m not sure I would have wanted to work for him.
As writers, we have all had the experience of getting brutally honest feedback. Sometimes it feels like our egos, not our work, have been sent through the shredder. Pointed criticism can hurt; it can also improve the work being presented for review.
When have you been shredded? Did it help the quality of your writing or did it just hurt?