(Click on photo for source)
I had a conversation today about the responses I receive from my blog entries and DiVine articles.
We discussed what I do with the comments.
- Do I respond to every comment?
- Do I need to justify my opinion once I write it?
- Do I need to write a disclaimer that this is my opinion only and I have no control over how my opinion may affect someone's life?
- How do I respond to critical comments? Do I need to respond to them?
- Is a comment critical if it is just someone else's opinion?
I put a lot of pride and time into writing content for communication products at work. But those words represent the organisation I work for. Even though they are my words, and I lovingly crafted and edited them, they are often not a reflection of how I am feeling. The content I write is mostly made up of facts and quotes. Sometimes I flinch when I get negative feedback, but I've learned not to take it personally. I don't know how this has come about over time - maybe it's good mentoring or just good practice in writing, and the sheer volume of communication products I distribute. I file the feedback, and modify future communication products to reflect what people are asking for.
But I can say it is easier to know what to 'do' with the feedback I get from my professional communication compared to my personal opinions through writing.
I put a lot of thought, and pride, into my personal writing. Unlike my professional writing, I don't know who my audience may be. The internet is so far reaching.
In my personal writing, I hope to educate and offer some perspective based on my own experiences. But I also want to have some fun and make people laugh. I hope I achieve that.
I can 'file' the feedback from my personal opinions. Sometimes I go back and look at it to see that people have appreciated, enjoyed, laughed at and empathised with my opinion. But it's not like I can change my opinion to suit my readers. Of course, there are things I choose not to write about. Some opinions are better left unsaid, or said between close friends, away from the public sphere. To avoid the danger of me becoming branded 'that writer who offended the world with her opinion'.
Sometimes I take lots on board. I mean this in terms of projects, and also the pressures of self success. It's nice to be told I've done a great job. I think the desire for validation is a human trait, and not a bad one. And I know that debate and other opinions are not always criticism. I can take things personally.
But the more I write and have my writing become more public, the more I wonder what to do with the responses I receive. Is there an onus on me to... oh I Can't even finish this sentence as I am thinking of so many things that there may be an onus on me for!
How do writers learn to archive readers' comments and know which ones to respond to, which ones to leave alone, and which ones to look back fondly on throughout life?
Edit: interesting comment from Neil Mitchell today, following the Catherine Deveney tweeting about the Logies fallout.
3AW's Neil Mitchell described the comments as pointless and bitter.
"(They are) vulgar, sick stuf. It's a sign of a person who doesn't get it, who doesn't get the basic standards of decency, doesn't get humour and doesn't get responsibility.
"When you publish you have a responsibility, she's published and she should be damned."