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The Benefits of Workshopping

Any writers or poets out there?

No? Well, even if it is just me, this is my blog and so I will take full liberties in espousing the benefits of having other writers look at your work.

Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, screenplays or plays every writer has a cohort. Once you decide to call yourself an artist, you have joined the large family of writers out there and you can either make a statement or choose to be in the background. Either way, you will write and what you produce defines who you are as an artist. And along the same lines, never be afraid or ashamed to call yourself an artist, that is what you are.

As the creator, you know exactly what you want to have down on your page. You write or you type or you speak it into software and then you keep going. You may edit and agonize over it until you are ready to throw some precious family heirloom across the room just to hear it shatter. And while that is all well and good, sometimes you feel as though there is something missing, some piece that isn’t connecting the way you believe it should. That is when you pick up the phone or send an email and ask for help. Other writers have definitely been through what you are going through so they can understand and empathize. Additionally, they are not as close to your work as you are. They will catch it when you forgot to type an article or just shot us into a scene without any explanation. They will give you good advice and some criticism but your work will be the better for it, even if you do not follow all of their advice because at least you know what options are there for you. Then, hopefully, the next time it is sent out to those in your workshop they will tell you that it has improved.

There are other times where you think that what you have is a work of art, something that will win you a spot on Oprah’s Book Club List but then you let someone read it and you get rejected. They say that it is boring or that it is all action, without any story. It might be too much like this other thing they read once fifteen years ago. Either way, it is bad and you’re hurt because it is your baby and you put everything you had into it. So you take it home and try to figure out what can be improved. But, you’re stumped because this entire time you thought it was perfect. What do you do now? Start over? Scrap the entire project? Cry for three weeks straight while binge-watching Korean drama? NO. What you do is get a group of people, in your field, and allow them to read it for you. Why a group in your genre? Because a nature writer may have little to no experience with spaceships and cyborgs. If that isn’t what they read or what they write, they won’t have enough insight to give you truly meaningful feedback. Yes, it is good to have a vast amount of people read your work but workshopping is the time you spend trying to make your piece as amazing as it can be while never losing your voice or style as a writer.

If you are a writer, I highly suggest you join a workshop. There are programs at universities but I know that that is not feasible for everyone so I will propose a couple of other options. There are groups through LinkedIn, Facebook and if you are in dire straits, you can create your own. The trick is to make sure that everyone is committed to writing. While having readers is nice, someone who only reads and has no heart for writing may not understand what steps should be taken as you edit and build up your work. But, it is your life and I shall let you do what you will.

And if you have something that you want me to read, let me know. Click here for more.

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