How creative women can overcome toxic feedback to create more

We shy away from feedback… because we assign it with the power of a mandate or a judgment… It is simply a resource to help you create.

Joni B. Cole

It took me too long to learn that we need positive feedback to create more, and that “brutal honestly” rarely helps us move forward when the work is hard.

I happen to think that all smart women are creative. Many of the women I work with get stuck because there is no well-trodden road for them to follow. Instead, their unique and varied skill sets require forging their own path.

Therefore, toxic feedback is often a major roadblock to figuring out what you want to do or how to foster a unique career. Someone along your journey you may have received a comment, or piece of advice, solicited or not. Well-intentioned or not, that uttering made you feel your pursuit isn’t worthy or that you are not good enough.

It can haunt you. Like an anchor, it can pull you down.

While Joni B. Cole‘s book is for writers, there is such good wisdom on how to overcome toxic feedback to create more. She demonstrates this not only in a new and revised edition of her book, Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive*, but also in her workshops–which have helped me to write more with more joy. (If you want to learn more about Joni, check out this podcast!)

In her book, she teaches you how to receive and give feedback, redefining it in a way that more useful and inspiring:

feed•back \ fēd-bak (none, often attribute): any response to writers or their work that helps them write more, write better, and be happier.

You can substitute “writer” and “write” for whatever it is you want to do.

Smart women have been trained to think that criticism is motivating. We thinkt that getting information on what’s wrong can help us improve. But, time and again, I’ve seen that focusing on what is going right is far more generative. It often leads to more unexpected improvements. And, building on your existing strengths is far more energizing.

So, how will you seek out feedback to create more?

Knitting notes

I’m knitting a tomato hat for a new baby in our midst. I’m loving this rayon yarn I found for another project so bought some more for this one.

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*Some of the links on this page are “affiliate links” where I receive a small commission from any purchases at no cost to you. Some of these funds will be donated to organizations supporting women and girls.