There’s nothing wrong with asking “what do you think?” and soliciting feedback, but there are two important factors to consider.
- What is your purpose in asking for feedback?
- Who are you asking?
When what you need is validation, choose your sources wisely. If I just need to know I’m doing what I should be doing, I go to my mom, but if I want validation as a writer, I go to my innermost circle of critique partners and tell them clearly I’m feeling vulnerable (which is necessary because at this point we take for granted that we all can write and should be).
Asking for validation can be a trap as well. Use it to build up your confidence until validation is less of a need. Yeah, I know, that’s easier said than done. Because I have a high need to have my insecurities soothed, I had to set limits on what and how I ask. I also get as much mileage as possible from off-the-cuff comments that meet that need. In fact, I write them down and refer to them when I feel insecure, which means I seek validation far less frequently.
What you don’t want to do is put the fragile writer’s ego in the hands of someone who will treat it harshly. Never put it in the hands of a reviewer, for example, or even your writing idol, who may not treat it tenderly.
Conversely, going to family members who already approve of us can leave us feeling dissatisfied. “Of course mom would say that. She loves me.” In addition, a very insecure writer may not choose to believe what they hear. If you find this is true for you, let’s talk and figure out how to boost your self-confidence and trust.
Ideally, every writer has a trusted alpha reader or two who can look over raw material and give both encouragement and helpful feedback. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to be open to finding one. At the very least, choose one of your beta readers to answer one single question. “Does this have potential?” And possibly a follow up: “What did you like about it?” Stop there. Let them validate you and then get back to work.
For the chronically insecure, the best remedy is a body of work. Because every story is different and pulls at us in unique ways, the more we write, the more belief we have develop that it will work out and we’ll get to the end. In other words, the more we do it, the more we believe we can do it.