Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Feedback: How To Give It, How To Get It

I'm excited to have Jo Sparkes here as part of her blog tour. Her new book Feedback: How To Give It, How To Get It explores a topic that many of us stress over. 

Jo will be giving away a $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Follow the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

I asked Jo about her take on Self-criticism, so without further ado, here's Jo...

Gale, thank you for inviting me here today.
Ahh, Self-Criticism!  We are so often our own worst critic.

Criticism – a better word might be feedback – has a real place in our world. It's a teaching mechanism, to improve our skills. When that woman at work gets promoted instead of you, you can choose to step back and evaluate. Did she work longer hours? Have a recent success? Maybe she had seniority.

Is there something you can learn here? Maybe to get the next promotion? This sort of thinking is healthy.
Worrying that you're not good enough, that you'll never get a promotion – or even worse – that you'll never deserve the promotion, is not healthy. It's a trap and a waste of time.

Ultimately, criticism is just a tool to find a better path. Never let it be a roadblock to your success.

So what can you do about that little voice in your head? Put it to work!

Try this approach: use your heart to decide what to do; use your mind to determine how to do it.

The question is never, 'can I write the ultimate literary novel?'  If you really want to – not because you think all writers should want that, or you hope to be rich and famous. Because you really want to do it, even if it meant no money or recognition – then of course you can do it. The true question is “how?”
If your heart wants to write, the decision is made. Your brain can be gainfully employed in figuring out how to go about it. Perhaps you keep your day job, and write on the side. Maybe take a class at the community college. Buy that book on screenplays or developing character. There might even be an intern job at the local newspaper.

When your head starts telling you 'you're not good enough,' tell it to get back to work. It's just being lazy.

Feedback: How To Give It, How To Get It
by Jo Sparkes

Feedback … a kinder word for criticism, is an organic component to life.

When a toddler learns to walk, he falls. He screams, cries – and persists. What would happen to the human race if he gave up after a few bumps?

Before we could read self-help books, before we could understand a language and sit in a classroom, we learned by trial and error. “Feedback” is the natural teaching process. It’s how the creator set it up. It’s how the world actually works.

Here, at last, is a simple process for getting the most from all the feedback the world offers us.


     For some reason it's easy to cling to criticism. To walk through the world telling yourself, “I can't act my way out of a paper bag,” or “my work is sloppy no matter what I do.”
     If you think about it, you probably can recall criticism you heard as a child. When I was eight-years-old, I overheard my father tell my mother I was lazy. To this day, if I'm not getting everything done as fast as I wish, if things are piling up on my desk, I can hear him saying, “she's lazy!”
     Clinging to criticism, to all the negative comments or snide remarks we've heard over the years, creates a very heavy burden. If you walk through the world so weighted down, you will inevitably slow and finally stop altogether from the sheer pressure.
     All you can humanly do is what we just did. Take in the information, analyze it, and decide what to do. There is nothing more to be done.
     It – the criticism – has served you. Now send it on its merry way.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes "writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read." Not only are those words a compliment to Jo’s skills as a writer,but a true reflection of her commitment to her work.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program. Years later, Jo renounced life in the corporate world to pursue her passion for writing.
Taking every class she could find, she had the good fortune to study with Robert Powell; a student of renowned writers and teachers Lew Hunter, and Richard Walter, head and heart of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.

The culmination of those years was the short-film "The Image", which she wrote and produced single-handedly. And in so doing, she became fascinated with the dynamics of collaboration on a project.

Since then, Jo hasn’t looked back.  Her body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, television commercials and corporate videos. She's been a feature writer on and a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network; where she was called their most popular writer, known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals.

She has adjunct taught at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, has teamed with a Producer on a low budget thriller, and a Director on a New Dramady.” She went in front of the camera for a video, “Stepping Above Criticism”, capturing a popular talk with her students.

Her new book, FEEDBACK  HOW TO GIVE IT  HOW TO GET IT, shares her lessons learned with writers, and indeed everyone dealing with life's criticism.
When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, along with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.
“In her compact, wisdom-charged Feedback Jo Sparkes provides sharp, sharp, cogent, advice not only for writers but for all people who value creativity and seek to lead fulfilled, creative lives.
“This slender volume provides more bang for the buck than far longer, weightier tomes. It is a splendid resource to which writers will refer repeatedly.”
                        - Richard Walter  Chairman of Screenwriting, U.C.L.A.

“The lessons contained in “Feedback” are not for the writer who is merely looking for a compliment, but rather for those who are striving for accomplishment.”
                       -Barton Green Author, Screenwriter and long-time friend
Jo Sparks simplifies the feedback process in this concise easy to implement guide to giving and receiving feedback.  As an actress, I believe everyone can benefit from her experience, not just those in the industry.
                       - Tonetta Weaver, Actress



Jo  will be giving away a $50 gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.



marybelle said...

I think we can be too critical of ourselves. This often prevents you from trying things, taking calculated risks.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Jo today.

Jo said...

Gayle, thanks for allowing me to be here.

Mary - you are so right! Fears and doubts keep us from truly being what we are -- what we can be.

If we just didn't fear making a simple mistake ...

Calisa Rhose said...

Self affirmation is hard when you're feeling beat down. It's something we have to work at for sure. Thanks for a great post ladies!

JP said...

Gale thanks for having Jo's tour stop by today.
Jo, I like the way you look at and handle this beast that lurks just waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting.

Ruby Johnson said...

Taking criticism as a writer is a lot harder than giving it, particularly if you go around in a blue funk and don't use the feedback to make your work better. The illustration of overhearing a comment by a parent could have gone the other way, but you took that criticism and turned it around. Sounds like a great book.


I usually spend a bit of time each day visiting other blogs. The title of this one really intrigued me and I'm glad I stopped. Last night, I read a paper Handsome Hubby had written. Like most writers, it is hard not to read and critique as we go. I found a few things I'd changed and mentioned them. Naturally, he took my intent as criticism and became upset.

Feedback is a much better word than criticism. There is no sting. So, going forward, I am using Feedback. Thank you!

MomJane said...

I think criticism is as important as praise. I know I don't always see everything that others do.

Catherine Lee said...

I am taking this statement to heart: Use your heart to decide WHAT to do; Use your mind to determine HOW to do it. My Myers-Briggs type is an ISTJ...just about 100% Thinking over Feeling. I struggle to remember that there is a place for the heart in decision making and giving feedback at work.

Jo said...

Somewhere along the line my brain decided that telling me what to do really meant telling me what not to do. And the list kept growing.

Wow - some very smart comments here. Thank you all for sharing.

Debby said...

I do think criticism is good but only if legitimate. Lately I have seen a lot of criticism that is not legitimate. Hard to tell between them
debby236 at gmail dot com

Jo said...

Actually, that's the whole subject of the book. Taking whatever criticism comes at you -- from your mother, your boss, or life itself -- and boiling it down to the gold nuggets the universe is trying to give you.

And then kicking it out the door.

Renald said...

Look at the source of where the criticism is coming from. If it's done by a loving person, in a nice way, you may feel they are there to help you, not to put you down. Others do it only to build them self up.

Renald said...

forgot name,ect. ,,DebP

Yvette said...

Unfortunately many criticize to make themselves feel better.

Anonymous said...

It's really good to have a perspective on which criticism helps you, and which holds you back.


Gale Nelson said...

Thanks for the great interview and review. Gale