Feedback is good for you

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“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last…”

Believe it or not, that’s how the original version of this song began. That’s how the writer wanted it to begin.

It had been commissioned for the Judy Garland film “Meet Me In St Louis”. The producer of the film pointed out that it was rather lugubrious.  The writer, being a writer, fought to keep his version of the lyrics – his vision as it were.

Eventually, the writer, Ralph Blaine, relented. He went away and came up with:

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light…”

The rest, as they say, is history.  And the writer ended up a very, very rich man, thanks to that one little change.

So why tell this story now?  Well, for a start, Ralph Blaine died a couple of weeks ago and this story featured in most of his obituaries.  More to the point, it illustrates the power of good feedback.

Too often, when we’ve written something, we’re tempted to consider it done and hit the “Send” button just as fast as we can.  But it’s always a good idea to test what you’ve written – to try it out on someone else.  It’s easier, and sometimes less painful, not to ask for that second opinion.

So, next time you’re tempted to skip this vital step in the writing process and to hit that “Send” button right away, think about Ralph Blaine and what a difference one little piece of feedback made to him – and his bank balance.

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