Writing, Feedback, and Kindness on New Moon Girls

Below is a guest post I wrote for Luna’s blog over at New Moon Girls. (And, by the way, if you know or love a girl between the ages of 8-14, definitely consider getting her a membership. And if you don’t, consider donating a membership to a school, library, or girls’ group.)

Last week, a school librarian invited me to talk to her middle school classes about the New Moon Girls community, especially how to write for the magazine. You can see our full writers guidelines here, but here are a few things you might not have known about how we choose what gets published in the magazine.

Giving a talk about New Moon to middle schoolers
  1. Did you know that if we get similar submissions from a girl and from an adult, we will ALWAYS give the piece written by a girl priority? At least 80% of New Moon Girls magazine is written by girls, and we feel passionate about keeping it that way.
  2. You can click an option to submit something to New Moon Girls magazine when you upload it to Your Stuff, but our Girls Editorial Board members also let us know when they find something really great on the site. That means anything you upload to Your Stuff has a chance of getting published in the magazine. That’s why it’s important to always have your email updated, and to check it regularly. We use email to get in touch if we want to publish something you’ve created.
  3. Many other publications want to see proof that you have experience writing or that you’ve had something published before. But at New Moon Girls, we like to publish as many voices as possible. So if you’re a new member or have never had anything published before, that won’t hurt your chances of getting into New Moon Girls magazine.

After I finished talking to the group, about a dozen girls came up to get more information. At the end of the line was a girl who was hesitant to go back to class because she said things weren’t going so well for her at school, or at home. With tears in her eyes, she told me that she really liked to write, but that when she shared what she had written, nobody ever liked it. She said it was hard for her to keep writing when she never got any good feedback.

Chatting with girls after my talk.

My heart went out to her, and the conversation reminded me how important communities like New Moon Girls are. We all need a place we can go where we feel certain that people will respond to what we share with kindness. After all, it takes a lot of courage to post your work for others to see!

Sometimes, it can be hard to give or to take feedback on creative work. Everyone loves encouragement, but many people also like feedback about what they can improve. Maybe the people who read stories by the girl above thought they were being helpful by giving her critical feedback. But it can be hurtful not to receive good feedback when you share something for the first time. Here are some tips for giving feedback in a way that is helpful rather than discouraging.

  1. DO comment on what you like about something before you comment about something you don’t like. It’s just as important for creators to hear what they’re doing right as what they could improve.
  2. DO end your comment with something positive about the piece. If you want to mention something that could be improved, always “sandwich” it between two nice things. Here’s an example: “This story really made me laugh–I loved the part about the rubber duck collection. I got a little confused in the middle about whether Maddy’s mom or aunt was talking. The ending left me with a happy feeling, though. I hope you will write more!”
  3. DO read your comment before you post, and ask yourself, “If I got this comment, would it hurt my feelings?”
  4. DO ask what kind of feedback a girl would like. Some girls want critical feedback because they like to revise; other girls just want to share their work and to get encouragement to keep creating. If you know what kind of feedback a girl wants, you’re less likely to hurt her feelings.
  5. DO be kind, no matter what you have to say, and
  6. DO remember that every girl is unique, and so are her creations. You may come across creative work that’s not really your style, but that’s okay. It might be just right for someone else, and the creator probably worked hard and had a lot of fun making it.

What kind of feedback do you like to receive when you post your work online? Are you ever nervous about sharing what you create? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips!

Love,

Lacey,

New Moon Girls Contributing Editor

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