Have you recently joined a writers’ group? If not, we strongly suggest checking them out, including our very own Author’s Society, and finding one that fits for you. Are you wondering what to expect and perhaps feeling a bit nervous about giving and receiving written and verbal feedback? There are a ton of ways to participate and contribute to a writers’ group. Here are 4 tips to help you make the most of your first meeting and beyond:
Check your ego at the door.
Any kind of criticism can feel personal when it is about our writing. So, it’s helpful to remember that you are not your writing. Group members are commenting on your writing, not on you as a person. Viewing yourself as separate from your work should help you avoid taking offense and blocking useful feedback out of defensiveness.
Keep an open mind.
You may be surprised to find that group members take a different meaning from your work than what you’d intended. Or that what resonates with some members doesn’t work for others. So, what should you do? Consider all feedback and then decide which suggestions you feel would most improve your written piece.
Be a reader, not an editor.
When it comes to giving feedback, remember your role. Though it may be tempting to correct errors with your red pen, you’re not the Grammar Police. Often times this is looked down upon in writers’ groups unless specifically asked for. Instead, focus on how the writing affects you as a reader and offer suggestions regarding bigger concepts like meaning, development, and organization.
Give supportive, useful feedback.
The goal of your writing group is to help one another with writing through constructive criticism, which means giving actionable feedback in an encouraging tone. Basically, try giving the kind of feedback you’d like to receive: compliments on what works well and specific explanations of issues with suggestions for improvement.
Now that you’re prepared for that first meeting, go forth and share your passion for writing with the other members of your writers’ group! And again, if you don’t have a group, check them out! They are a wealth of knowledge that can help you take your writing to the next level.