So, during this morning’s bath, I scrolled through WordPress Reader to catch up on some of the blogs I follow. I don’t follow many because I’m only nine days into using WordPress, and I haven’t entirely considered the Discover feature. I’m not sure what I’d be looking for anyhow.
After I received a few follows, I read over their sites and if it looked like something other than someone trying to sell something and something in which I might be interested, I returned the favor.
I teach writing, so I’m used to reading work with a fair amount of error. From a grading perspective, these things must be addressed. However, I find that if I were to do this in the real world, I’d miss out on what a lot of developing writers are trying to share: themselves.
As readers, it’s vital to look for the redemptive qualities of a piece and see what potential there is for someone to grow. Hell! Even if you don’t have a vested interest in developing writers or watching them progress, overlooking errors provides opportunities to empathize with those risking vulnerability.
The writer is vulnerable even if he doesn’t share his darkest secret.
The writer is vulnerable the second the cursor moves from blinking to “I.”
Perhaps you’ve never thought of it this way, but we’re sometimes upset when we love someone’s work and then discover it was put together by a ghost writer. We feel betrayed. We think to ourselves, we were experiencing a meaningful connection with someone whom not only dared to share the tougher moments in their lives but also dared to struggle through finding the right ways to say it. We imagine, this person likes to write just as much as we do.
But that is often not the case. Writing is a labor of love. It requires focus and practice. It’s the type of thing you get better with after exposing your flaws. It’s the type of thing that improves once someone has opened themselves up to criticism.
I received a lot of criticism in college simply through attending writing workshops. And if you aren’t familiar with this type of class, it entails sitting in complete silence (you can’t say one thing in defense of your writing, and if you need to defend it, you obviously didn’t portray something correctly) while the instructor and a group of your peers critique your work.
They say things like…
- “I can’t really see this character behaving in this way. You said on page 11 that he was an accountant by trade. Shouldn’t he be more meticulous?”
- “The sentences on page 5 are long and drawn out. Perhaps writing short and choppy sentences would convey the urgency the characters are sensing.”
- “There are so many pronouns. I’m not sure who is talking anymore.”
And these comments are interesting because you start to see just how closely people read your work. Some will refer to another page and cite something to defend why a character might act a certain way. Someone may say they preferred the long drawn out sentence because it made them feel like they were drowning in a suspense. And a class might unanimously agree on an issue influencing you to clarify points throughout.
At any rate, I certainly do not expect to attain perfection any time soon, but I do expect to improve as I will not stop writing.
My Tips for Writers
- Write! Perfection is not a requirement. There will always be someone who thinks you could have said it better, and there will also be someone who loves what you are doing.
- Read aloud. When you read something aloud, your reading of a piece slows down considerably, allowing you to catch errors you would have otherwise let slip. Not to mention, you will be able to fully appreciate instances of anaphora, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. 😉
- Show it off. Sometimes knowing that someone will actually see our work is motivation enough to invest in producing something of quality.
- Seek Feedback. Asking for help is a great way to create a bond with others, and in doing so allows both the critic and the writer to grow. Learning to criticize in a constructive manner is just as rewarding as learning to receive it!
Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.