Asking for feedback early on in the writing process of my first novel was tremendously helpful. It prevented me from waiting for the moment I considered my writing to be ‘perfect’ to show it to others, removing unnecessary pressure on myself. Secondly, it meant that I could not get precious about my words because I was sharing them with others very quickly. Thirdly, it allowed me to get input at a moment where I needed not only encouragement, but also another pair of eyes on my story and characters.
That said, there is an art to asking for feedback. You need to choose people who have the time and energy to read your text. People who are readers, obviously, and who will be able to give you as honest a feedback as is possible. And more importantly, you need to prepare targeted questions for them. If you send a text to read without guidelines, you are very likely to be told that your writing is ‘nice’ or ‘interesting’ or ‘engaging’ or ‘good’. All valid and encouraging comments, which might reassure you, but will not give you the answers you need. So, decide what it is you want the feedback on and write your questions in a separate document for them to read afterwards so they are not influenced from the word go. And, finally, be prepared not to like the answers. As my mother used to tell me when I was a child: ‘if you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question!’