Writing can be a solitary business. But whether you're in the beginning stages or have completed a draft, you can't actually do it alone. Often, technical communicators need an outside perspective to help stay focused and keep from being bogged down.
When looking for feedback, keep these tips in mind:
Know what you need. To save reviewers' time — and your own — be as specific as possible about the kind of feedback you want. Are you looking for a sounding board for initial ideas? Do you need confirmation that you're on the right track before you get too far into the draft? Are you trying to correct or avoid issues that caused problems in previous professional writing? Or do you simply need a little space from a project that you've spent too much time on?
Know who can give it to you. After you've decided which kind of critique you need, you can figure out who can best carry out such proofreading. Look for someone who has at least one of these qualifications:
- Is interested in the end product and its success
- Is trustworthy in terms of providing honest feedback
- Is a careful and thoughtful reader
Know what to ask for. The more precise you are in asking for feedback, the more useful the results will be. Ask for comments explaining exactly why the reviewer likes or doesn't like your work and what about the writing is good or needs work.
- Know what to do with it. When you do get comments, don’t take the criticism personally. After all, the writing you do in the workplace is about your business or organization and its success. Instead, consider whether the advice will truly improve your writing . (Get a second opinion if you're unsure.) And look for ways to apply useful criticism to your future writing.
Obviously, we'd all like to get positive feedback. However, constructive criticism can be much more useful than boundless praise.