I tried something new last week.
At the behest of my editor, I started writing outside of my comfort zone. Whereas my old pieces were focused on a broad topic and wound their way to a point, my new article was the opposite. I had a laser point focus- a deck primer- and worked backwards. Sure, I had written articles like this before, but for whatever reason, this time it felt different.
Was it because the deck I was presenting was one of my own creation? Maybe. Was it because I finally felt like I was making it as a writer, listening to my editor? Sure! It was all of these, and everything else.
I was thrilled when I attached the document to my e-mail and hit send.
It went up.
I waited some more.
I'm hard on myself. I always feel like I can do better. At my job, I;m always asking what else I can do, feeling like there's some little extra I can give. When I'm playing a game (any game) I'm constantly reevaluating what can be done, going back and looking forward. It can be your typical paralysis by analysis, where I think so much, I fail to act properly. In writing, I am much the same way. I am not the best writer, nor am I the worst. But I like to think I am better than average. The best way for me to get better is to keep writing, but the second best way is for me to write better. How do I write better? Via feedback.
When publishing a Magic article, you're limited in some ways. Some people will only focus on the content, not how it is written. Some will only focus on your "record," ignoring the quality of what you have to say. Sometimes, you'll get people who will take the time to agree and disagree with your points and let you know what they think. I welcome all these people because what they have to say matters. They are my audience and what they have to say can influence my writing.
I'm still waiting.
More than before, I really wanted feedback on this article. I got almost none. I had tried something new, and I wanted to know how I did. Writing is a challenge to myself, and I want to get better.
Let me tell you, the worst thing as a writer isn't negative feedback - it's the absence of anything.
The absence means the only person giving me feedback on my work, is me. This is dangerous, as it can create a feedback loop where, if I'm not careful, I become the only person that matters. Do I think this will happen? No, but it might.
One of the writers I want to emulate generates a ton of comments, quite a few from people detracting him. He's been in the game for at least a dozen years, tripling my years as a writer and obliterating my output. His recent writing has made me envious. The way he gets feedback does the same, because for every five comments that have no substance, there is one that makes me a better writer.
If you like an article, or if you don't, let the author know. No one gets good at their craft by just repeating their mistakes. And sometimes, you need people to point them out.
Be the red pen.