I love my mom and dad. I love my best ladies. I love my best fellas. But I don’t love them as editors. I mean, I like them alright and I appreciate their presence in my life, but I don’t know if I’d recommend them on Yelp. Everyone has a different kind of personal support system, whether it’s a fan base to rival J. Beib’s or a group of nitpicky individuals who are never satisfied with what they’ve just read. Regardless of what camp your editors lean towards; there is one universal truth about your friends and family: it is impossible for them to read your work without bias.
Humans look for patterns. That is science. That means that regardless of whether they say so, or whether they’re even aware that they’re doing it, they will look for you in your work. Also, they will look for themselves. I have a dear friend who I asked to edit a story once, and he ended up taking the entire thing personally because one of the characters had the same name as him. Case in point: find editors who don’t know you.
Not only do workshops with complete strangers allow you to get real unbiased feedback, but it changes the way you write too. Not that I’ve ever refrained from writing a piece because I’m afraid of what my mom will think, but getting truly constructive feedback is so rewarding. Being able to give your work to a group of people from different backgrounds and assorted walks of life will make a difference in how you see yourself as a writer. Existing inside a bubble is not conducive to change. An audience who doesn’t know your life also doesn’t care enough to psychoanalyze your work is strangely freeing.