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Do you find the good, the bad, or the ugly in your writing group?

Yesterday I promised to explore writing support for what helps us keep the dream alive, words flowing, and how we achieve good writing.  Do you have a writing buddy? Are you part of a writing group?  What are the dynamics of the group?  How do you experience receiving critique?

By tuning into one’s emotions when soliciting writing feedback, you can gauge whether the source is for your higher benefit or not.  If you leave a writer’s group feeling sad, disempowered, or like a failure after receiving critical feedback – then perhaps that’s not the best group to belong to.  Some groups feed, like sharks on an injured seal, tearing apart your writing to prove their supremacy.  Not good, and mostly indicates their low self-esteem.

To avoid writer’s block and keep your muse alive to have fun writing, consider these suggestions:

  1. Engage with a writing buddy or group who offers positive, constructive critique. (Note: criticism is negative by definition.  Critique is a balanced analysis without emotion for the purpose of improvement.)
  2. Target the area of improvement in your writing by directing the feedback to focus on an aspect of writing: opening/closing, plot, character, dialogue, pacing, setting, wordiness, grammar, punctuation…
  3. Be receptive to hearing about how you can improve your writing versus defensive that there’s something wrong with what you’ve created.  Sure there might be errors, but refrain from absorbing the feedback as you’re wrong or you can’t write.  If the writing group or buddy intends feedback as your best interest, then perhaps editing is in order.
  4. Listen to how the reader responds to your writing piece.  If he or she is confused by what you wrote, then chances are a larger audience would be as well.  Saying, “that’s not what I meant!” to explain tells you that something is off. Your writing did not accomplish clarity and understanding.
  5. Short and sweet – beginner writers often fall in love with rivers of flowing words describing a scene or character in 14 different ways.  Mix up description with crisp snippets to move the pace along.  Are six sentences required when two provide the key information?  For example:  How many ways do you want to describe your grandmother’s house, furnishings, landscape, etc…Does the description all have to be in the first paragraph or would it be better served sprinkled throughout the story as you focus on an aspect of traveling to arrive, going inside, and then interacting with aspects of rooms and furnishings, as necessary.
  6. As necessary – less is more sometimes. This says it all.
  7. Evaluate what you can change and what you, as the source of the writing and what’s most dear to your heart, choose to keep.  Are you clinging to words, a paragraph, or chapter out of stubbornness or pride, or is the content central to your message?  If it’s central but it’s not coming across effectively, find a way to make it effective by rework, rewords, or renovating the piece.

Hopefully these suggestions will prove helpful to you.  Write and let me know.  Add your own tips to what you find good, bad, or ugly in writing.

For a writing prompt, reflect on what works for you in writing support.  Have you considered your role in the process of giving or receiving feedback?  How empowered do you feel to direct the reviewer of your work?  What has been your experience?

Set the timer for 10 minutes to write – Go!