Attention Writers – Book Review on “Toxic Feedback”

Toxic Feedback

Toxic Feedback

This book is just what all writers’ need. We need to hear what the author Joni Cole has to say.

As Joni Cole defines feedback it “is a noun, any response to a writer or his work that helps him write more, write better, and be happier.” She is concerned that it is the writer himself  in his hypersensitive state to any feedback at all who may turn the feedback into something negative not to  return to write anything. She says that the writer remains the boss of what he/she has written and it is up to him to determine what to do with the feedback; whether it was in the form of a  negative, positive, somewhere in between two positives, or given as a formula type feedback.

The book is written for writers and has a friendly, encouraging voice. This more than anything kept me racing from page to page. The supportive tone, the kind advice was addictive. As a writer I am the target reader for this book. I leapt from page to page finding the encouragement intoxicating.

“Toxic Feedback” works because it talks to writers on a gut level. Ms Cole tells of ‘The Club of Real Writers’. A club of those who have been published and are the likes of Virginia Wolf and Gore Vidal.. We have that image stuck in our brain and we feel negated by it. We hear ourselves telling ourselves that we don’t belong. The voice in our mind tells us over and over how we don’t measure up.We all have reasons to think why we are not Real Writers and Ms Cole dismisses them one by one and validates our writing. She says “If you are writing you already meet the criteria for the Real Writer. You already belong to The Club.”

Toxic Feedback is broken up in four sections,” Rethinking Feedback, Getting Feedback, Giving Feedback and In the Company of Writers.”She redefines feedback and she talks about how to receive feedback. For feedback providers she gives insights on how to give it with love and a manner that instills the desire to write more rather than give up writing. This book benefits not just writers but those who are leaders in writer’s groups and workshops. There is a whole section where Ms Cole offers ways critique groups and workshops can grow and help in this process of feedback. She tells all this in first person accounts and real life examples.

Sprinkled throughout her book, Joni Cole has thirteen editors and authors give their answers to questions in interviews that all writers love hearing about. Authors like Jodi Picoult , Khaled Hosseini and Julia Alvarez  give their feedback stories and help emphasize her message, that every writer’s success  is due not just to their own imagination but to the people who give them feedback.

“Toxic Feedback” is a book I would recommend to all writers. http://www.toxicfeedback.com/

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About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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12 Responses to Attention Writers – Book Review on “Toxic Feedback”

  1. Sigh. Buying all the books people recommend is getting expensive. ))

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, you do have to pick and choose but I think you won’t be sorry with this one. Thanks for stopping by. If you have a Kindle it’s cheaper.

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  2. nrhatch says:

    Wonderful endorsement, Clar.

    Judging from reactions I’ve gotten to requested feedback, I expect that many writers would benefit from reading this book:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/hang-ten-riding-the-waves-of-dismay/

    Some writers are far too sensitive for their own good:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/the-crystal-clear-blogosphere/

    Getting feedback is a gift which we can accept or reject . . . without losing our will to write.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      You have certainly covered the gamut in your blog posts. Thanks for the links, I’ll enjoy reading them.
      Joni has a whole section on receiving feedback so one doesn’t lose the will to write. As she and you say the writer is boss over his writing.

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  3. SuziCate says:

    Thanks for the review…I will have to check it out. And you know I love adding to my kindle library!

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  4. clarbojahn says:

    yes, check this out. it’s definitely worth it. You won’t be sorry.

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  5. pattyabr says:

    very insightful book review I may check it out. thanks. 🙂

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  6. clarbojahn says:

    You’re welcome. I really enjoyed the book and hope you will, too.

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  7. Joni Cole says:

    Hey Clar, thanks again for the review! Together, we can rid the world of toxic feedback (the concept, not the book!) so every writer can make the most of this resource. And thanks for the comments!

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  8. jannatwrites says:

    Great review. Feedback is a necessary thing, but it doesn’t have to be so painful to give or get. As a writer, I try to remember that just because someone didn’t like something about a particular piece, it doesn’t mean I stink at writing. It just means there may be some loose end that could’ve been tied a bit tighter. When giving feedback, it’s good to remember that an honest critique doesn’t have to be mean.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      That’s exactly right, Janna, There are whole chapters in Toxic Feedback that address feedback in those terms. One place it talks about the hypersensitive writer who thinks any critique of his writing is negative because he is so sensitive. Ms Cole talks about how to receive feedback in it’s proper place, That it’s only to make the writer happy by writing better and writing more.
      She also address how to give feedback “not mean” but positive and helpful. and how to do that.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting

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