Sep 27

Commenting - Longer Version

Commenting -- or exchanging feedback -- is an important part of the Young Writers Project community. This is where you can learn the strengths and flaws of your work or where you can get some affirmation. The exchange of feedback builds community and it's a motivation for you. We all like to get a little feedback; it helps us keep going. HINT: You are more likely to get a comment if you give a comment to someone else on their post.

There is another reason to comment, though, it will help your writing: By reading others' work closely and seeing where their writing works and where it doesn't, you can learn to look at your own work more objectively and will revise better.

On this site, you have four circles of commenting and response:

  • you, the writer 
  • community members you do not know reading your work,
  • community members you do know reading your work, and
  • YWP Community Leader, mentor, staff or instructor reading your work. 
There is, of course, a fifth circle -- external audiences who read your work here,  in The Voice  and in external media where YWP publishes your best work. For the most part, you don't hear from those audiences though YWP is open to having external commenting on this site, even on an experimental basis. (Contact gg about your thoughts on this.)

Feedback Circle One:  You as a reader. It is always important for you to keep in mind that you are in control. That said, it is important that you seek out readers' views of your work; their insight can be terrific help in improving the piece -- and your overall writing. HINTS: Before you "finish" a piece or publish it (always save as you go, however), here are a few things to do:

  • Read a piece aloud. Did it sound like you? Did your tongue trip up? (Those are their spots to change) Do you notice things that really need changing now?
  • Set judgment aside: We often are hampered by our own self-judgment, "It's no good,"  or "I didn't have enough time." Those obscure your own ability to see what's good and what needs fixing.
  • Read and reflect: Read your post and then think about what you wanted that piece to accomplish. Does it work? Are there some points not made? Some points that are not clear?
  • After you've posted it,  perhaps you should write a comment asking for some help in specific areas of the post.
Feedback Circle Two: Community Members' you don't know. This site is based on trust. In our first decade of existence YWP had over 400,000 posts and comemnts and we were and continue to be amazed by the respect community membes show each other. So, with your work, feel free to take creative risk. Trust the community. HINT: Make sure to take whatever advice you are given or to discard anything that doesn't ring true. You are the writer; you are in control. HINT: Don't forget to thank the community member who's left you a comment OR, if the comment is a little unclear, as the person to clarify.
NOTE: You should get email notification when your post gets a comment; if you aren't getting those notifications, check your SPAM bucket and make sure to mark as NOT SPAM any of those notifications.

You, of course, are often the person commenting on someone else's work. There are a few things to keep in mind about commenting here -- and we say this more to the newer writers in the bunch:
  • Everything you write in digital spaces tends to be viewed as more harsh or more negative than you intended (you probably know this from an ill-conceived text, no?). Just ask yourself -- before you save -- "Would I want to receive this?" 
  • Use phrases like "I wonder if..." rather than "You should do this..." 
  • Look at the deeper questions -- don't worry about grammar or spelling or punctuation, look at structure and tone and whether the point is clear or the story/poem makes sense. 
  • Be honest -- but kind.

There are a number of levels of response:
  • You read it, don't know what to say and move on. That's OK.
  • You read it, like it, don't know what to say. That's why we have the LOVE button.
  • You read it, like it, love it AND let the writer know in a written or AUDIO comment that you liked it. A conversational (and specific) affirmation. 
  • You read it, like it, love it AND you want to provide some specific feedback to help the writer get it even better.  We have long advocated the 1+1 method ONE thing you liked (specific) and ONE thing you wondered about (specific).
  • You read it, like it, love it, leave a comment AND you are so moved by the piece, it triggers a story or deeper idea in your brain so you SPROUT IT.
Click the SPROUT button at the bottom of the piece you just read, that'll open a Create a Blog Form... have at it and save. YOUR piece will be forever linked to the piece you read and THAT author will think it's really cool!


  • And FIRST go to the posts with no comments -- spread the wealth. in the main menu bar at the top of the site, under READ, click "Table-All" to see who does NOT yet have a comment. Go there first! 

Feedback Circle Three:  Community members you know -- and Community Leaders

There are upwards of 3,000 active users on this site; by active we mean they stop in at least once a week to share or leave a comment or read. And we have about 40 Community Leaders  whose work is really spectacular. A comment from them should, and does, have some greater meaning. 

Take a look at the pieces they love and comment on. That will help you see new writers and writers who are pretty good and from reading others, we begin to see what we can do with our own work.

The Fourth Circle:  Mentors, YWP staff, professionals

External audience is an extremely important part of the work in building a community of writers; this practice brings affirmation and internal motivation. YWP has a lot of past users who are now mentors, staff and volunteers and professional writers and digital artists who stop in. We hope they brighten your day. Feel free to reach out to them (us) AND take advantage of their expertise in our regular ACADEMY workshops. eat but it is somewhat unwieldy.