Archive for November, 2009

On Writers’ Circles

November 10, 2009

On Writers’ Circles

We had a Writers’ Circle meeting yesterday. There were only three of us, but this was one of the most useful circles I have ever attended. Somehow, even though we are writing very different scripts, we are attuned to each other and can give just the right feedback. Even though I am not a fan of science fiction or fantasy I find it intriguing how my fellow writers’ books are slowly but surely coming to life. I can empathize with the characters and ideas and after listening to a short section, have ideas about what I believe would be effective ways of improvement – you know, more showing rather than telling, less gentle thinking, more punchy interaction.

But who am I to comment? As for my own writing, I have been bored rigid with the diary of a language learner I have been trying to write. When I first read an excerpt to my fellow writers, they candidly admitted that they, too, were bored rigid. ‘Put it in the first person,’ they suggested. ‘Talk about situations and put in more of the language itself.’ So I started re-writing. I put it in the first person and tried to make it sound as if the reader was there with me, experiencing the first attempts at learning Spanish and the people and situations that affected my learning.’ Better’ they said.’ Joy of all joys, one small word of encouragement like this is enough to send me to the laptop with renewed enthusiasm and energy. The book accompanying my talk at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate next year may well be finished in time.

What is particularly apparent is the respect that develops between you and the people you know who are in the same business. Strangers may well be able to give sound advice, but little beats the words of people you know have no particular axe to grind, have no particular interest in marketability and have no preconceived, set ideas about what always works.

It seems clear to me that:

  1. You should never write alone– you always need feedback.
  2. Trust between you and your advisors is essential.
  3. It takes only one or two others to form an effective writing community.