Giving and Taking

on Tuesday, October 20, 2015
    A few updates on my life before I dig into my topic-

  • I'm being interviewed again! Yay! It'll be up later this week, and I'll share it here for all you lovelies to read about my ridiculousness.
  • I'm preparing for NaNoWriMo! This will be my last attempt to push out the end out my novel. I've got about 50,000 words left, so hopefully I can use NaNoWriMo to my advantage and really crank out the ending. This may mean I blog less because I might have to turn off the wi-fi so I can actually focus rather than Pinteresting and Netflixing the days away. I don't know yet, we'll see when November gets here.
  • I'm not sick anymore! Whoo! That means that I can get back to being productive instead of laying on my couch in the darkness because my head hurts and I can't stop coughing.
    Due to the creative energy I've got coursing through my body after being sick for a week, I'm pumped and ready to continue writing. It's exciting. As I write, I post my novel chapter by chapter on Scribophile for fellow writers to read and critique. I get lots of good feedback on everything I post. But what exactly does good feedback mean?

    When you think of "good", the first synonyms that generally pop up are "favorable", "positive", or "excellent". But when I say that I get good feedback on my writing, I don't always mean "positive" or "amazing". When I receive feedback on my writing, usually the most helpful comments are negative.
    So why would I use "good" as a synonym for "negative"? Because if people only tell me that my writing is "good", it'll never improve. There are so many issues in my own writing and plotting that I don't see. I already know everything about my story, so how do I know if this grand reveal had the effect that I wanted it to? Readers tell me. 
    I highly recommend that any aspiring writers get lots and lots of feedback from fellow writers, and that you take the feedback with an open mind rather than being offended when someone points out a mistake you made. If you don't agree with something said to you, then talk it over. Maybe the person misunderstood what you said and you need to clarify your writing. Maybe you contradicted something you said previously. Whatever it is, pay attention to your readers because they don't know what you know and the whole point of writing a story down is to share it successfully with your readers. You don't have to listen to everything that every critique says, but it will give you an idea of what your writing is like.
    In this same sense, while you're writing, read lots of other writing. Critique other writers. Noticing their problems will not only make you feel a whole lot better about your own writing and the mistakes you make, but it will also help you notice other writing styles and will help you notice your own mistakes as you write.
    That's right, critiquing other writing makes you a better writer. For example, when I first started posting my writing on Scribophile, I had a lot of issues with repeating words and filler words. Once I started critiquing other writing, I noticed these issues in someone else's story and pointed them out because they had been pointed out to me over and over again. When I went to write the next chapter of my novel, I started writing a sentence but stopped when I typed the word, "just" because I realized it was a filler word and had no real place in my sentence. I went back and deleted it. Without the experience of actively noticing these issues in someone else's writing, I wouldn't have noticed them in my own. Now, I don't have a problem with filler words.
    Writing is all about giving and taking. And lots of editing. Lots and lots of editing. But you can't edit without feedback from others. There are so many benefits to critiquing. Join a writing group in your area (or Scribophile online). It will greatly improve your ability to write while expanding your connections to other writers and building up your writer platform.


Xena Elektra said...

I have the same repetitive issue with "that" and "started to/began to". I'm hoping I'll get better as time goes on at not using those so I don't have to eliminate them later.

I find that reviewing helps as well as critiquing. Something about taking the time to look analytically at another person's work helps me to see the flaws in my own. Or even what to avoid. If I don't like A in a work or I see that the writer struggled with B I can try and make sure I don't do the same thing.

It's always hard to communicate online and be sure your intentions are getting across the way you mean them too. That's why I enjoy getting to know the people I work with so that I can relax and just work! I know that if I have questions about what they said, I can ask and not worry about them getting offended. The reverse is true also. I seek out people who will not take what I'm saying in the negative sense, but see it all as comments and can ask me to clarify a point if need be.

Kheldarson said...

I completely agree! In order to improve, you have to have insight as to what to improve and how to do it. And the best way is to analyze others and be analyzed in return. It follows in the vein of what every education major is taught: if you want somebody to learn it, have them teach it.

Ydan Stark said...

For me, the best critiques are the ones that are little bit of praise with a little bit of constructive criticism (which doesn't necessarily need to come from the same person). It's very important to know which passages engaged a reader because then I know where I'm going in the right direction.

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