Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Writers' Workshop - Friend Or Foe?

English: Dean Batali teaching at writing meeting.
English: Dean Batali teaching at writing meeting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Writers' Workshops, Critique Groups - call them what you will but at some stage you are going to need someone to read through, comment on, make suggestions or critique your writing.  Enter the trusted Writing Circle. But how well do you accept opinions on your work as you go through the writing process?

Up until recently I have relied on the good judgement of a close friend to critique my work and help me develop my ideas. Granted the more you write the better (hopefully) you become and you get more of a sense of what is good or right about what you are creating. Whilst I'm very happy with this arrangement (I also offer the same support for my friend) I decided I'd branch out and joined a workshop. Just to see where it would lead me.

The workshop is friendly and supportive and full of ideas. In the first few weeks I took on board most of what was said when I listened to their feedback. After a few weeks of reading my work and getting feedback there was one week that I didn't accept a single thing that was offered to me.

It's not that I suddenly became big headed but I truly didn't think they were right. As writers we have to remember that the most important person to listen to is yourself. Advice is helpful but with a roomful of people giving you guidance you have to have enough faith in what you are writing to be able to decide if you agree or not. Be strong enough in you own opinions and don't get swayed if you feel strongly about something and don't be talked out of it.

Taking risks in what you write could elevate and enhance your story. Sometimes others are only telling you how they would do it and that doesn't make their opinion any more valid than yours.

Yesterday I watched an interview in which the writer says to just write, write, write. That's what I tend to do. Get it all out. Read it several times. Make tweaks. Read it aloud and then I present it to others to read. Because I spend more time crafting my story and going over it myself I'll have a good grasp of where to go with it and what works. Extra advice then helps strengthen something that should have substance and will take you closer to your goal. Finishing that story!

If you are a new writer then you may lack confidence but remember, if you believe everything you're told and go back to your work and change it all then it really isn't your idea now is it?

How do you get your work critiqued and how do you use the advice you are given?

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