Everyone should be required to partake in a writing group.  I know, not everyone has a passion for writing.  That’s ok.  There are critical life lessons to learn in a proper writing group.

Your work is critiqued by your peers. I know, way to be naked in front of strangers.  But here’s the thing…no one actually critiques your nudity.  The point is to understand everyone is naked and sharing something personal.  No one  judges the purpose itself ….the place inside you where it comes from.  That is sacred and respected.  What the critiques do is more mechanical.  They help you make the body of your work better than you think it can be or better than you know how to do by yourself.  

As an adult, mostly in the professional world, you are criticized all the time in search of the best you that can be.  Some people are better than others.  The good ones don’t point at your personality trait as a failure when it’s not working.  They look for the mechanics of how that trait may be making others feel, how it’s presenting differently from how you may intend it.  I have had many bosses appreciate how calm I am at accepting and implementing feedback.  Because when done like a writing group, they aren’t criticizing me as a person.  They are writing notes in the margins and crossing some words out, re-arranging paragraphs and pointing out cliches.  Then, I get to take that draft back and rework it. I don’t have any emotion tied to critique of my work.  

It’s also the spirit in which I also give feedback because in a writing group, you are reading other people’s work and making your recommendations.  I make my margin notes too and at the end of the day, we all go home and get to work on the re-writes.

Once you do another draft, you bring it back to the group and get new critiques which let you know what progress you have made and any areas which may need further attention.  No tears.  No hurt feelings.  Just more suggestions and another draft until you get your work to the place you feel best and you publish.  At no time does anyone tell you that you should not be a writer.  

When you are at work or In social circles and criticized for who you are, that hurts.  You are naked alone and no one else has the guts to do the same.  These people don’t understand to be naked is to be respected no matter what moles, fat,  cellulite, scars they may be privileged to be seeing.  The fact someone is showing this to you is art. She isnt asking you to tell her she is fat, she may be asking you to suggest how she might lose weight or tone up her arms.  That’s what writing is.  A writer isn’t asking you to decide whether or not it’s a good story or if it should or should not be told.  The writer is asking you to help her tell the story in a better way.  

When you learn how to be a writer and how to be a reader of writers in this way, you learn how to move about the world as a true adult, able to take feedback for its true intent and able to give feedback that is not to scold, but to lift.  I cherish my experience in a writing group from 20 years ago.  It has stuck with me to this day.  It gives me a bullet proof vest so that I am able to do my work in risky venues without getting hurt.