Archive | 10:32 AM

A Mini Writers Retreat: Sharing

24 Dec

My writers group met for the last time this year for a nice little get-together. It was a smaller crowd than we’re used to, but that worked out in our favor this time.

We practiced reading our pieces aloud. It’s surprisingly terrifying to share what you’ve written, though, fortunately, this group stresses sharing what you have no matter what you think of it. When I first joined, it made me nervous to share a prompt response I’d just written. What if it was terrible? I figured out pretty quickly that everyone hated what they wrote (or at least 90% of people) but they didn’t care, they shared it anyway. Part of writing is sharing what you’ve written. Books are published for public consumption, not for the author’s own pleasure. If it’s hard to share something you wrote in five minutes that has low expectations, it will be a lot harder to share something you worked on for years.

For this meeting, we shared stories we’d already written, our latest work in progress. We went around the table and each shared our first sentence, critiquing as we went. Then we shared the first paragraph and then the first section (about three pages or so) with a critique after each one. I found it helpful to read the beginning of my latest draft out loud. I know it’s improved since the previous draft, but there were still a lot of places that it needs some help. There were things I didn’t realize needed help that the other members were able to point out which helped, too.

I’m a big fan of critique. I’ve had five friends and my husband read my 1920s novel and each reader finds something I can improve upon. Of course, it’s terrifying to share my work with others, but it becomes less terrifying each time. Now, it’s not as painful and I’m not constantly stressing about how far the person is or what they’re thinking. Sharing my work has made me ready for backlash and bad reviews I might receive in the future. It also helped me prepare for rejection letters from lit mags. It’s been an overall positive experience.

So share your words, Reader! They could always be improved, but there could be someone who likes them, too.

Until next time, write on.

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