Workshopping

I’ve got more to write about my weekend at TiNA and the National Young Writers’ festival, but I feel the need to write about this now. So please excuse the interruption.

I’ve explored this before. I know many people have had horrible, scarring workshopping experiences, but I absolutely love them. My writing would either be incredibly crap or take about five times longer to produce if it weren’t for the regular opportunities I get to have other people read my work and give me feedback. Usually I know, somewhere deep down, what’s going wrong in a piece but it helps to have someone else articulate it for me. Sometimes though, like tonight, I know there’s something wrong, but I’ve no idea what it is. I spend far too many moments in my life thinking about it, rolling it around and around in my head to no avail. Those of you who’ve read some of my writing will be aware that it’s not always the most sunny and uplifting experience, so it can be quite distressing to have it kicking about in there.

Tonight I’ve workshopped something that I’ve been writing for about a month. Last month’s Monday Project helped me further some parts of it (I’ll put the result up here and there shortly). I’d finished the first draft but I was really at the point where I needed someone to be honest with me.

And therein lies the potential problem with workshopping, I think. Firstly, honesty can be difficult to hear; but, and perhaps more importantly, it can be difficult to give. Some people don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they hold back; others don’t care how you feel, or at least don’t know how to put the word ‘constructive’ into practice. I’ve found, though, that if you go into a workshop knowing that you don’t have to listen to everyone (or even anyone) it’s much easier to listen well. I’m certainly not always good at this! (Or giving feedback…)

I’m interested to know, from those of you who don’t get feedback from others about your writing or other output, what process do you use to work through the inevitable sticky points?

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