How to Workshop Your Own Writing

It's a rare writer who can produce publishable works of fiction without needing feedback from readers. Most writers depend on other people to see what they can't after the weeks and months spent at the keyboard, trying to translate what's in their imaginations into words. Hearing that your work needs improvement is difficult--even heartbreaking--but a necessary part of the creative process.


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    Enroll in a workshop. A workshop is generally held over a specified number of weeks and may be geared toward particular genre of fiction. Most workshops charge a fee to participate.
    • Find a workshop in your local area. Workshops may be offered by colleges, community education centers, private clubs or other organizations. These workshops are often led by a local writer and charge a modest fee.
    • Attend a "destination" workshop that draws writers not only for the chance to get feedback on their work but to enjoy what the location itself has to offer. These workshops charge much higher fees, but are led by more well-established writers and editors.
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    Find your area's organizations for writers and become a member. Most charge a modest membership fee.
    • Attend presentations, lectures, and conferences offered by your writers organization. You will learn more about how to write well and get ideas you can apply to your works in progress. These meetings are free or offered at a discount to members.
    • Sign up for one of the organization's critique groups. This is an ongoing group in which members bring their writing to regular meetings to receive feedback from the other members. Some groups are for writers of certain skill levels, working in particular genres or belonging to specific demographic groups.
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    Join or start an independent critique group. You can often find groups that are open to new members by reading the local newspaper, magazines with a local focus, writer's magazines or online through sites like Craigslist. If you can't find a critique group to join, you can start one by finding a convenient location to meet and advertising for members.
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    Become a member of an online critique group. Sharing work with an online group relieves you of the pressure of having pages ready for an in-person meeting at a set time. You can often choose which writers' works you want to read and give your critiques when you have time. Many also enjoy the anonymity of online groups because they feel it helps keep critiques objective.
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    Set your work aside for a few months so it will seem new when you return to it. Often you can find problems with your plot, characterization or writing style after letting your work "cool down." You may want to make yourself a checklist of questions to ask or things to look for as you read.


  • Expect that you and your work will be misunderstood by critics. Everyone sees things a little differently, and rarely will they see the same things you see. It's a natural tendency of people to want to rewrite your work to suit themselves. Listen to feedback for something you can use to improve your story, but don't rewrite it simply to suit other people.
  • Don't take criticism personally. Listen quietly to the feedback being offered, and don't defend your choice or argue with critiquers. This will only discourage them from giving you honest feedback in the future. Listening to a critique of your writing requires that you have a thick skin. Remember that even feedback seems harsh or unfair, the critics is offering it out of a sincere desire to help you improve.

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Categories: Better Writing