Write On Wednesday: Outside Opinion

Earlier this summer I participated in an online writing class which turned out to be a very rewarding experience.  I completed six essays on a variety of topics and in a variety of formats, connected with six other amazing writers and got the benefit of their feedback on my work, and got some vital insights about ways I could improve my writing.

It’s been a long time since I put my writing up for grabs.  Sure, I write blog posts all the time, but since you all are such a forgiving group those posts are like chatty letters to a friend rather than a piece of writing  up for critical review.  I won’t lie and say it wasn’t a little scary to write something completely different and then put it online for my classmates to read and critique.  But luckily my fellow writers were very supportive, our group leader was gentle, and we all learned a great deal.

Something I missed growing up as an only child was the opportunity to have a critic, someone not afraid to tell you when your outfit looks dorky or your haircut is lame.  I’m sure those of you with siblings are saying, “Opportunity?? It’s more like a pain in the a#@!!”  But, taken (and given) in the right spirit, an outside opinion can prove invaluable as you’re learning to navigate the wider world.

Same with the world of writing, I think.  Anne Lamott refers to her “second opinion” readers as “midwives,” who bring her best work to life. “Theoretically I could do it alone,” she says, “but it sure makes it easier to have people helping.” I know that I appreciated the writers I worked with this summer, and will not hesitate to seek outside opinions whenever I’m able.


7 thoughts on “Write On Wednesday: Outside Opinion

  1. I enjoy your posts and the comments back and forth and if that helps you then that’s great. i enjoy the various perspectives people have on the same subject and how they are all so supportive of one another.

    It’s been a bit of an eye opener to see the camaraderie that exists among the bloggers; it really is a built in support system for one another.

    I saw references to last weekend’s “BlogHer” event in California and how so many folks were looking forward to going and meeting other bloggers and renewing friendships. Then I saw some recaps among the attendees and it was really amazing how much they interacted and helped one another.

    I think this is the advantage of Social Media where we can get to know one another thru blogs and comments and gain a better perspective and tolerance for everyone’s thoughts and opinions. If only some of this tolerance would carry over into the political arena….would make for a better world.

  2. I don’t know – there are days when I think our widespread tolerance for whatever comes down the pike is contributing to the dissolution of our society, the problems in our educational system and a general disdain for quality in artistic endeavors.

    I know that’s not precisely what Lou’s referring to, but I do think tolerance and laziness get confused at times. That’s why WHO is chosen as a second reader, a critique group and so on is so important. You don’t want to end up listening to someone who is less talented or less committed to their art than you are!

    And there’s value in developing our own “internal critic”. After all, it’s our vision, and we’re the only ones who know where we want to go. I’ve taken a couple of side trips myself because I chose to listen to idiots. 😉

  3. Valid points from both of you, I think. As in everything, there needs to be balance between blanket acceptance and being overcritical. I like the way social media and blogging opens a door to meeting other people and encourages a supportive atmosphere. But you have to establish some criteria for quality, at least in your own mind!

  4. It’s interesting work, this writing thing. Overall, it requires a certain solitariness to get the writing done. On the other hand, one can lose track of how one sounds, working in limbo, so to speak. (though reading one’s work aloud is always good.)

    I’ve counted on my journalism work to keep me on course, on blogging to let me natter on, and on the inner guide for quality, as you refer to above in my “other” writing. It’s tricky business, this writing, but it is always good to get out there and listen and weigh, and share, as you have.
    And then consider, and throw away or adhere.
    A writer is captain, crew and the sails, whether there’s a breeze or not.
    Isn’t it grand?

    • You know, I often forget just how important reading something aloud can be. Thanks for the reminder of a very effective and easy tool to give me another opinion!

  5. Hello, my friend. Trying to get back in the groove and sure wishing I had time to write for me, not for work. But that’s for another discussion. Just checking in — more later, just wanted to say hi.

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