W is for Washed Clean at Writers’ group

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Blogging from A to Z Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

By Maagwokhuaeo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Considering that yesterday’s post, “The Undiscovered Country, Part II,” dealt largely with get-it-out-there fears, I thought what happened last night at my writers’ group was worth sharing.  We basically applied the counsel given in the blog I linked to in that post: “Accept that these things are sure to happen.”  We know we are going to write stuff that will evoke unintended mirth, so why not accept it, embrace it even, harness the cathartic effects of laughter.

One of the women in the group last night gamely read a rough draft of something she’d written.  No editing.  We all know where this is going, right?  A page in we were laughing, the author included.  By the end, some tears had been shed, but not the painful kind.  We were all having a great time, and the author was relaxed and pointing out things in her own work the rest of us had missed.  It was great!  I didn’t even return any criticism because I know she’s going to go back and clean those pages until they shine.  My input can wait until a reading of the edited version.

It struck me as we went through this that it might be a cleansing exercise for us to have an “ultra-rough night” when we each bring something we have done absolutely no editing on.  Or what about having everyone intentionally write something really bad?  What freedom would it give us to bring something we know is going to elicit groans and chuckles?  Would those “they’ll laugh at me” fears fade away if we initiated and controlled the situation ourselves?

Rules for Really Rough Reading:

  1. Know your Group:  Ours has been together for a while, so there is already an established relationship.  I wouldn’t suggest putting a new member on the spot like that.  It could be devastating.
  2. Gauge your Toughness:  The group members have each developed enough of an editorial thick skin to take criticism.  Newbies may not be quite ready for this experiment.
  3. Freedom of Involvement:  The author did this voluntarily.  Had she been having a sensitive night, she could have stopped reading at any time.  Also, I hope we would have been sensitive enough to her feelings to recognize if she was not finding this funny.
  4. With, not At:  We weren’t laughing at the author.  It was not mockery.  We were giggling at the types of mistakes we all make: a sentence here, a phrase there, the image that an unfortunate combination of words creates.   We also weren’t calling her work silly or worthless.  There was serious feedback given, and that was done with tact.

So, what do you think?  Is this a scheme for cleansing, or a plan for perpetuating paralysis?

  1. So much fun! and yes I think reading something you can laugh at is sometimes way more fun than laughing with them 🙂 as long as it’s good clean, not mean, fun! Thank goodness we can fit the ever lengthening bill!

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