Thursday, January 21, 2016

At a Writing Session - Double Do’s

Here are a few suggestions of what to do when attending a writing session. The purpose is not to be sanctimonious. The purpose is to improve the way the group functions.


1. Be Punctual – Unless something unexpected happened, be on time. It’s a sign of respect towards your fellow writers and the host.

2. Be Polite - Behind the avatar is a person. When you arrive, greet everyone present. When you leave say goodbye. And if your viewer crashes and you don’t really have time to log in again to say a proper farewell, mention what happened the next day. Everyone will appreciate it.

3. Be Friendly – If you have to go AFK (away from your computer) drop a line in local/nearby chat letting everyone know. The same happens for when you get back to your computer. This helps with the logistics of the event, avoiding delays or misunderstandings.

4. Be Social – Writing is the main goal of the event, granted. Some writers don’t attend the writing session to socialize, granted. Nevertheless, it’s important to spend a bit of time chatting with your peers. It strengthens the group ties and it promotes empathy.

5. Be Generous – During the socializing period, group members usually talk about their stories, about their favorite writers. Notice which genre each one of them focuses on. If you come across something you think might be interesting for them, even though it’s not your genre, bring it to write-in and share it - new resources for writers, a nice photo that could become a prompt, an interesting article.

And Do’s

1. Avoid Monopolizing the Conversation - … and talking only about your story, your writing method, your characters, and your writing world. Allow others to talk about their work as well. Ask questions and show interest.

2. Use The Affirmative – When asked to provide feedback, be positive. Use sentences in the affirmative. They encourage people to continue to write, despite the aspects they know they’ll have to correct.

3. When Critiquing Someone’s Work – First ask them what kind of feedback they are looking for. Do they want you to focus on the plot, the characters, the setting? Would they like you to identify typos, grammar and spelling mistakes? Are they looking for a general opinion? Or are they looking for a more detailed analysis?

4. Present An Alternative/Correction – After identifying something in the story that could be improved and/or corrected, provide a suggestion on how to solve the problem. Avoid telling your fellow writers what you’d do if you were in their shoes. Avoid being too directive.

5. When Your Work Is Being Critiqued – Listen to other people’s opinions and take notes. Avoid interrupting them. Avoid trying to justify why you have written something in a specific way. Avoid taking it personally.

Question: What if I am not interested in having my work critiqued?
Should I stop attending this particular writing group?
No! It’s important to witness the process of text analysis and review.
There’s always something new to be learned.

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