Workshops can be a divisive term among writers. Some folks jump at the chance to hear a comment and take some criticism from their fellow craftspeople. However, some folks find it difficult to gain a better experience than “that was good” or “I didn’t like that.”
Recently, I joined a writer’s critique group. It’s part of the Winston Salem Writers network and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the first meeting. I chose one of my unpublished works to use for critique.
To be honest, I’ve only ever found gifts in workshops. As a creative writing teacher in a high school setting, putting 16-17 year pupils’ work in front of the class and breaking it apart is not only daunting for them, but for me as well. What if they get angry? What if they cry?
Despite all of this, I only ever see one reaction to the workshops in my classroom: interest and dedication. When someone’s own work is on display, they are immediately invested more in what we’re doing. This affects them, so they are more willing to tune in. They, even at 16-17 years old, are also very dedicated to getting better. Had I known I wanted to be a writer at that age, I might have better work published.
So, if you find yourself worried at the thought of interacting with other writers, and potentially getting your work critiqued, don’t be. My students’ work gets better from it, and they seem to enjoy seeing what they’ve done right and wrong. It makes them better writers, and better people.