Make productive use of your writing group

Feedback from a writing partner or group is not always useful.

After you pass around copies of your work, you want constructive comments. Writing partners can focus on two simple things to make feedback helpful. Ask your reader(s) to:

1) Fix spelling and grammar.

2) Mark each paragraph with an A, B or C.

  • A is for “this holds my attention. I’m enjoy reading this.”
  • B is for “this bores me, you’ve lost my attention.” Skilled readers can explain why they’re bored. Perhaps the writing is cliché, or too abstract and without sensory detail, or its obvious, or repeats something you’ve already told them. But if they can’t tell you why they’re bored, you still should trust the B. Something is not quite right with this paragraph.
  • C is for “this confuses me.” A little explanation from your reader would be helpful–what, exactly, seems to be the root of confusion. Is the word or sentence order incoherent? The word choice vague? Lack of detail or explanation?

We think it’s easier for most writers to accept feedback when it is written, not discussed.

No matter whether you talk or write to one another, when you receive feedback please do not defend your writing or yourself. Just graciously accept your reader’s responses to the writing and consider them in private, alone, after you get home.

If someone is bossy, belittling, or mean, we suggest you firmly tell yourself that this is that last time you will submit your writing to that person. Then stick to your decision.

After you are alone, you can bleed privately and nurse your wounds. Yes, even good criticism hurts. We writers are such sensitive people! Even constructive criticism feels like criticism. But it’s better to take the pain now, rather than after you’ve published your book.

If your published writing is boring or incoherent, readers won’t buy your book and all your hard work will have been for nothing.

So clean and bandage your cuts. Then get to work; improve your words. Be grateful for the A’s, and consider how to fix the B’s and C’s.

To succeed in this competitive field, you need to be a straight-A kind of writer.

Both professional writers and wanna-be’s write timid, boring, incoherent first drafts. There is a simple difference between professional writers and non-professionals:

Professional writers study the craft of writing and use their acquired knowledge to polish and re-polish their writing.

Our next article covers what to do after you’ve identified what’s boring or confusing in your writing–how to fix it!

Do you have a writing partner/group? Why or why not?

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