Perhaps the biggest problem writers and artists face is polite people. People who tell American Idol rejects their singing is "wonderful!" People who rate a book five stars no matter how insipid and illiterate it may be.
The world is full of such people. If the earth is a stack of pancakes, then they are the syrup that floods the plate and drips over the edge. Honesty is definitely a lonely word.
How do you get an honest opinion? How can you be sure the opinion you're getting is honest?
Then it hit me!
If you want a truely honest opinion about, say, a book title, give polite friends three titles to choose from. "Pick your favorite," you tell them. The one they pick is bound to be superior to the two they didn't pick.
One reason this strategy works so well is polite people don't have to tell you the two titles they didn't pick "suck!" They want to say something nice, so they say, "I like this one best. It is so cool!" Problem solved. Now you are getting honest feedback without requiring your overly polite friends to be something they're not: brutally honest.
You can also use this strategy with anything you desire honest feedback on. The sky's not even the limit!
As an alternative, you can also join the Gather Writers Group to get critical, yet encouraging feedback for your writings.