For my major in college, I ended up spending a lot of time in writing workshops. These classes, their professors, and the students involved all tended to be…provocative. There was the professor who shared a name with a 90’s hip hop duo, and went on at length about majesty of falcons. There was the workshop where we were asked to stand up, one by one, and offer up our most penetrating insight into a peer’s work, intervention style (Note: this does not for a comfortable class make).
But one of the perks of being in a workshop is that they’re almost always made up of pretty interesting folk. Now, interesting can lean towards good or bad. You can learn from both, but taking a lesson from the bad (telling yourself, “Oh, right. That’s why I shouldn’t do that”) is uniquely satisfying. There should be a German word for it. Which brings me to my classmate, Beowulf (name changed, privacy’s sake, etc.)(Because it was a celeb!)
What do you do when you finish writing something? File it away? Send it to the teacher you’ve written it for? Call a friend to see if they can nitpick it?
These days, I pretty much immediately send it to my best friend. He’s the best person for the job because he’s able to keep from being biased. He can tell me what was good and if there was anything he didn’t really like. And we are so much alike, that if he thought it wasn’t good enough or if he didn’t enjoy it, then I should probably re-read it and see if I don’t like it as much as I did while writing it.
I used to just file stuff away, because I didn’t value anyone’s opinion on writing enough to ask. That’s because I can see their opinions on things in everyday life and realize we disagree. I need someone who can be neutral, not someone who I can plainly see will not be on the same page as me or will just tell me it’s good because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.
I write for myself. If I don’t like it, if I wouldn’t read it somewhere, then it’s not good enough. If you don’t like my writing, then we’re just not the same type of people. And that’s perfectly okay. Because I’m writing for people who like the same stuff I do. Because I’m always dying for something good to read, and if there are other people out there who are like me and doing the same, then they deserve the best from me. If I can get published, I want it to be the kind of stuff I would read. I’m seeking good stuff all the time, and it gets harder all the time to find stuff I like. So there must be others who feel the same. And that’s how I think when critiquing my own work. If I don’t like it, then the other people who are still looking for something good to read are still left out in the dark. I strive for quality.
I’m a picky reader. But that’s just me. The point is that my opinion is that you should write only stuff that you yourself would read. If you don’t like romances but want to write one, then write a romance that would get you into the genre.
Everybody’s different. But this is something I’m kind of right about. You can’t write to please everyone. Because if you do, you end up pleasing no one, especially not yourself.
Find like-minded people and get them to read your writing. That’s the kind of validation that every writer needs.