I came across Elizabeth Gilbert’s four question test (click) on Oprah Winfrey’s official website and it’s thought provoking. Liz, like most of us, wanted feedback about her work and valued honesty. She was ready to listen to brutally honest feedback but she realized that there is a thin line between honest opinions and abuse. So, Liz designed a way to filter critics:
I came up with four questions to help me decide who got to read my work when it was in its most vulnerable stages:Do I trust this person’s taste and judgment?Does this person understand what I’m trying to create here?Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?
If I could not answer yes to all four questions, then I would not let that person read my stories. And the fourth question was the most important—because here is what I learned (the hard way) about readers and editors who offered me a “brutally honest” critique of my writing: They were always more brutal than honest.