Thursday, February 21, 2013

making headway on a goal.

In an effort to kick my writing into gear (yes, I'm trying one more time!) I signed up for a writing class through the local community education office. Meeting with 5 strangers and baring your soul is an interesting way to spend a Thursday night. I'd hoped to have a bit of instruction and guidance but it's turned out to be more of a 'group' than a 'class'.  We take turns sharing what we've written and offering up critiques and criticisms as well as a sprinkling of praise.

While I've definitely found ways to improve my writing based on their feedback of my own work I think I've learned the most by listening to what others have written and listening to the ways that they offer feedback rather than from the feedback itself. Some people are natural writers. And some people have a gift for knowing what will and won't work in a written piece and knowing which questions to ask to help the writer improve.  I find I'm still a little stuck in the 'it's good' 'I really liked it' mode of critiquing. I can usually tell you if it works or not but not necessarily why it does or doesn't. As I've paid attention to the way others listen and respond I find it trickling into my own responses but amazingly, into my writing as well.  Re-reading a piece I try to read it with their eyes and ears, what will they notice, how can I fix it? And now even in my reading of books in general I've learned to watch for the same cues and responses.

It's amazing what a new reader and a worthwhile critique can produce. (And I've added 20 pages of new text...hooray!) It's a slow process but it's nice to be able to see some actual progress finally and feel as if I'm making some headway. Let's hope I can keep it up once the class ends!

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