Â As your new member editor for the middle of the week's Writing Essentials, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to read some great writing and share what I know about the craft. Â Over time, I'll sprinkle out personal information so that you can get to know me better. Â
My first tidbit: Â I love languages. Â I studied German in high school, Thai as a Peace Corps Volunteer, American Sign Language at Metro University in Minneapolis because I have hearing loss and thought it might come in handy someday, and French on my own via on-line services such as the BBC. Â But I'm only fluent in English. Â C'est la vie!Â
Â My focus overall with Wednesday Writing Essentials will be on growth as writers. Â There are many aspects that contribute to a writer's improvement:
- prolific reading
- regular practice
- technological competence
- giving and receiving constructive feedback
- taking classesÂ
I will talk about each of these facets in turn. Â Today I want to address feedback. Â Here on Gather, it's not uncommon for someone to write a poem or short story and receive a dizzying assortment of superlative praise. Â There's value in that, however there's also value in objective, constructive criticism. Â
Â The components of constructive criticism include:
- objectivity Â No need to run down someone's work because it doesn't appeal to you.
- encouragement Â Â Your goal is to educate, not embarrass.
- honesty that reflects sensitivity to the writer's feelings
- specificity Â Rather than ramble about the article's weak spots, get to the point.Â Â Â
What's in it for the writer? Â The benefits of receiving constructive criticism depend on the receiver. Â Ideally the writer will be open to others' thoughts and opinions. Â The writer can learn differing points of view and more fully understand how his or her work was received by others. Â
My experience in receiving concise feedback is that I feel very affirmed. Â I know that my work was carefully read. Â I consider what others had to say and then compare that to how I intended my work to be interpreted. Â If I feel a valid point was made, I have an opportunity to change my words. I don't have to take every comment, regardless of who makes it, and acquiesce to their suggestions. Sometimes, I believe I wrote exactly what I meant to say and I don't change my words.Â
So, let's start out today with a prompt. Â If you choose to publish to Writing Essentials, be sure to tag your article with: Â WWE (Wednesday Writing Essentials) Â That way I can easily see it and respond. Â Because my own life is hectic right now, I've a child graduating from high school tomorrow, an open house to prepare and another child flying off to visit her aunt and uncle in a few days and two firm writing deadlines to meet (along with three soft deadlines) since I work as a freelance writer, our prompt will be a timed one.
Take twenty minutes, not a second more, and write fiction, poetry, or non-fiction to include all four items:
- a canary
- the word dividedÂ
- your age, but it doesn't have to mean years
- an oxymoronÂ