Workshops

Writing workshops: Be wide open with praise, pointers

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For those who take part in groups or writing workshops, there are plenty of tips and information out there for writers about how to graciously receive feedback. The criticism can sting, especially if you feel that the comments are misdirected or wrongly placed.

writing workshops

Flickr: john mcsporran

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But, let’s consider for a moment the role of the giver of feedback. It can be easy to toss out a heaping dose of criticism when we are not on the receiving end of that tough medicine.

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So, read on for tips for being a fair and conscientious reviewer in a writing workshop:

Be Careful
Consider your tone when offering an opinion to a writer. Short, clipped sentences and flippant remarks that assume the writer understands your advice or sense of humor is a sure way to hamper the creative writing and sharing process. Serve up your words with a dose of sweetness.

Be Empathetic
Remember your own writing growing pains. Give relevant advice that you have also embraced. Give examples of your own experiences – both positive and negative. Pepper your feedback with such qualifiers as “I have made similar mistakes…” or “I understand how easy it is to become distracted by grammatical issues.”

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Be Specific
Take time to explain your ideas. Offer sound advice that includes common sense suggestions for improving the piece. Rather than just dispense the wisdom, engage the writer in a dialogue that helps you both to arrive at a workable solution for a particular writing challenge.

Be Conscientious
Strive to offer pointers that are truly helpful. Don’t let an error slip just because you feel tired or distracted. If the writer’s narrative structure is convoluted and hard to follow, bring the issue forward – no matter how complicated or cumbersome.

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Be Positive
Remember to address all that is good about the manuscript. You needn’t be profuse in your praise. Simply note what works about the piece and why. Then look for ways to build on all that is good and hopeful.

Have you been hurt or disappointed by someone’s writing feedback? Share your thoughts below on how the workshop experience could have been improved.

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at EducatedWriter.com and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at kerrismabee.com.

Kerri S. Mabee

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