Thursday 19 April 2018

Play nice

I read some wise advice recently offering that the first move for any new writer is to join a "writing group".  This is where a half-dozen writers submit works-in-progress to each other and critique the pieces at the next scheduled meeting.

After "join a writing group", I would add as the first sub-clause:  "And leave your Attitude at home."  Writing is an intensely solitary affair, so you have to make sure your diplomacy skills are rust-free and oiled up.  You're there to learn and you're there to teach at the same time, so bring all the friendly consideration and open-minded modesty you can carry.

Being Defensive will get you nowhere.  It may feel like these nasty people are stabbing forks into your beautiful baby, but take a breath.  They're trying to help.  If you can't take some attempts at constructive criticism now, you're gonna be one sad puppy later on when the 1-star reviews pile up online from uncaring strangers.

Being Offensive is even worse.  Defensive is only making everyone feel awkward as you pout like a toddler.  Throwing snark, insults and sarcasm might get you big points in some forums, but face-to-face will only get you booted from the group.  Good riddance.

And you can't dump all that open-minded, goody-goody stuff at the coat rack when you get home.  You can't just slip back into your Attitude.  You have to really give a think to the various suggestions offered your piece.  If five of the six group members thought your hero's six page soliloquy on the hazards of goat choreography was a bit too long, you have to sit and honestly roll it around your head.  Could it be trimmed?

The benefits of a writing group are manifest and many, but only if you play nice with others.  Just like your parents told you at the playground.