When I send my work to an alpha reader, on the other hand, what I’m looking for is encouragement. I’m looking for someone to read my work and tell me it’s fantastic, amazing, enthralling, the best thing they’ve ever read, and could they please read some more of it immediately, if not sooner.
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Jo Eberhart makes an amazing point about the need for encouragement in pursuing our passion projects and work. This doesn’t just apply to writers, but anyone pursuing their work. Alpha level support doesn’t mean blindly praising people, but pushing them towards seeing their goal to the end and then developing that end further. No writer just sits down and does draft one perfectly. No dancer automatically performs choreography perfectly from the first try. As we learn we cannot simply critique without the support of those who encourage us and highlight what we can do well.
People say that encouragement can be too much, but I disagree. Encouragement is about pushing people to do better and supporting their triumphs no matter how minor. The baby boomer generation, unintentionally, has eliminated “average” and trying to develop as acceptable standards while regarding my generation as entitled. I believe this is due to a gross misunderstanding of what encouragement is. Encouragement isn’t demanding the best. It isn’t disregard the middle ground. It is praising the best of what a person does and still acknowledging the trials and talents of those who do alright or even poorly, so we can push them to analyze where they failed or can improve. Encouragement, regardless of age, is what makes us more likely reach our goals.