article writing: feedback and how we integrated it with a developer <STYLE>
Nice that you have found the way to the third part of my article series on the topic of writing. For me, this is an exciting subject because I can learn a lot about how to put my thoughts on paper. At the same time, it is fulfilling to motivate others to join me on this journey. The first part was primarily about the benefits I have experienced myself, that arise from writing articles. This was followed by part two, which focused on how to get a structured start to writing. Where I describe what steps you go through when writing and point out tools to keep your motivation high and improve your writing style.
The importance of feedback and its influence on your writing
This article is about feedback because I have noticed how it helps me to improve and how important it is to think about routines and processes to motivate yourself. Make yourself available for feedback that you would like to have on your work. At the same time, it’s essential to me to offer to write together and give each other feedback. Writing together is simply more fun.
This is about the importance of feedback in the writing process and what influence it can have on one’s own writing.
The main benefits I see in choosing to solicit feedback from others are:
To get feedback, you need to have produced something, so you also need an initial commitment and the will to write something yourself. Feedback is beneficial when writing an article so that you don’t just work isolated on your topic but open up to others and incorporate their perspective, ideas, and opinions. You can be inspired by your feedback givers, stimulate yourself with it, and integrate new thoughts and link them. You may even get a fresh look at a topic you are stuck on or having trouble putting into words. You can learn from the experiences of others who have been in similar situations or are more experienced in writing down their thoughts.
Types of feedback
Depending on what stage of the writing process you are at, feedback has different purposes. Initially, when you are still in the research or outline phase, it can help you to sharpen the goal of your article and what you want to achieve with it. You can check if what you plan to write is technically correct. During the writing process, you can get ideas on storytelling and feedback on whether you have expressed yourself clearly. You can exchange ideas on how to bind the reader to your text and keep it exciting. Towards the end, it’s more a matter of textual corrections and formulations or even a content-related approval.
Guidelines regarding Feedback
What is also essential to me, is to define in advance how to give feedback correctly. It isn’t always that simple. Different personalities react differently, and with a generally accepted guideline, you define the common ground of understanding. In the best case, the guidelines are created and accepted together upfront. Then each participant feels understood and can include his or her expectations.
Giving feedback the right way
Giving feedback is not a one-way street, if you help each other with your articles there are also some things to consider from the perspective of the feedback provider. One of the main points is honesty. It doesn’t help anyone if you only find euphemistic words and thus only confirm the writer in his work. Instead, it is more important to look deeper, to identify possible misunderstandings and structural problems.
General advice to improve the added value and readability of the article is relevant. An open approach to mistakes is crucial. Talk about the mistakes openly and honestly. Constructive feedback is essential. Not only noticing mistakes but also offering hints, advice and possible improvements are part of it.
It is necessary as a feedback provider that the work on the article is the subject of the feedback and not the criticism of the author. As said in the beginning, in the best case, you agree in advance with those giving feedback on this open behavior.
Prepare yourself for the feedback
On the other hand, as the person asking for feedback, you should also be mentally prepared for possible criticism and be open to it. It is also helpful if you develop the courage to express that you are dissatisfied with a certain passage of the article as a writer and communicate this to the feedback provider. It is needed to actively set the right mindset for learning from your mistakes. As a writer, you are often very emotionally attached to your written work. It can then feel harsher than intended when you are criticized for your work. Don’t take it personally. The intention of the feedback is to improve the article, and you should always keep that in mind on both sides.
Receiving feedback and how to deal with it.
Stay calm and open to feedback about your article. Your feedback provider has the best intentions in mind. Think about who you are getting feedback from. What focus has the person in mind with his or her suggestions? Choose your feedback providers carefully. Differentiate between those who can help you with your content and those who can improve your writing. Make this clear when requesting feedback from them. Just pick the comments that make you reflect and improve your work from your perspective. Ask clarifying questions about the feedback to help you better understand what was said.
Articles are written language, therefore seek verbal exchange on crucial comments. Then uncertainties will be clarified most easily. Don’t be caught off guard by the amount of feedback you get, it’s normal. Embrace the rich feedback because it gives you many opportunities to reflect on your work and see it from a different angle. Writing is an art form and everyone interprets it differently. It’s normal for opinions to drift apart during the feedback process and you don’t always have to agree.
GIT our Feedback tool
We think it’s helpful to get feedback not just from one person, but from different people with different backgrounds and experiences. It is supportive to have a process you know very well and that you can easily follow. As developers, we are very familiar with the principle of pull requests. Which we use to get feedback on the code we write before we put it back into the main code. Even as a non-developer this process is easy to use. You can do the same with your articles.
We have a Git repository at Mercedes-Benz.io where any writing enthusiast can create a feature branch for their article to write. When ready for feedback, the author then simply submits a pull request to gather feedback from the writing group. If you want to get extra early feedback on your not-quite-finished article, you can also mark it as a draft. The reviewers will then give timely suggestions on the article, following the pull request etiquette. Then it is only a few small steps to the publication on our company blog. This process has proven to be better than sending documents back and forth.
You probably know the principle of pair programming. If you want to know anything else about it, read this article by Hannes, where he goes into detail. In a nutshell, two developers work on code together to support each other in finding the best technical solution. If you want to push the collaboration level even further, you can do it in a group in so-called mob programming. We do something similar at Mercedes-Benz.io only with writing articles.
We do this to motivate each other, get early feedback and inspiration and support each other. Another plus point is that you have another moment where you can network with other writers. We are all in the same boat because we are not full-time writers. That’s why the group is quite homogeneous and everyone is ready to take in the feedback of the others. This was born out of the will to deal with writing articles regularly. Spending at least 30 minutes a week writing your article will help develop routines.
Therefore, those who are currently working on an article meet on Friday for about 45 minutes in a joint meeting.
- The first minutes are used to briefly introduce what everyone wants to work on in the following part of the session.
- Then everyone writes for 30 minutes without disruption while listening to relaxing music that promotes creativity.
- After that, there is an optional chance to read out your result and get some feedback.
I always find it amazing how much can be created in a few minutes and how great the pride is when you have once again created a successful paragraph. Feedback from these sessions is more of a spontaneous reaction but works quite well as an additional stimulus. After the meeting, I often have so much energy that I want to continue immediately.
You see, feedback and collaboration in writing are vital to us. We like to experiment with new methods and tools to improve our writing activities together. Feedback is not always easy to give or accept, still it creates enormous advantages to writing when we share our writing activities.
Those of you who are MB.ioneers and now feel like writing, please contact me. To the readers who don’t work at Mercedes-Benz.io yet. What do you think about the Mob Writing approach and how do you handle the feedback process when writing your articles?
Everyone can write. And even better when doing it together!
P.S.: Incorporating feedback into this article about feedback was particularly exciting. Caught in the endless loop of reflecting on feedback. (Images by Joanna Kosinska and Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash).
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