What a writer needs more than anything is feedback. If you consider the word ”feedback” in a dictionary, you learn that it is a very old English word with many nuanced meanings, most of which have to do with food. In the context of writing, the term that has most meaning is that feedback can supply the writer with nourishment, support, sustenance, and allow for growth.
So much of writing constitutes a private interior dialogue within the writer. You are truly hearing voices, seeing scenes, feeling emotions. However, following my own dictum, that, “Writers don’t write writing, they write reading,” what does your writing convey to a reader?
In the world of the professional writer, it is the function of the editor to articulate an answer to that question, and, if possible put forward ideas, remedies, and suggestions for surmounting inevitable weaknesses, and hopefully, pointing out strengths. Of course, writers have other ways of getting feedback. One reads many an acknowledgement of an author’s partner for continual feedback. There are trusted friends and writing groups, too. These days it is not unusual for writers to (privately) go to independent editors for feedback.
There are pitfalls here, but by listening, not debating, one can learn a great deal.
That said one of the great problems in today’s critical exchange is e-mail. Forgive me if I sound like a nostalgic voice, but it used to be that editorial commentary was offered in carefully crafted letters, or more vitally, by talking. Those conversations—for me at least—allowed for interactive understanding, problem solving, and creative engagement. E-mail is more often than not a one-way street, and a narrow street at that.
From where I sit, and write, a writer’s best feedback for nourishment, support, sustenance, and growth is talk.