I know all the warning labels — technically blogging is a time suck that’s keeping me away from writing. But I’ve always liked journaling. During the long periods where I didn’t write, I still journaled. And the more you write, the better you get. It’s inevitable.
They did studies on nuns because of their extensive journaling. They lived longer, happier and more lucid lives. Researchers theorized that the act of journaling preserves and promotes neural connections. I’m too lazy to do more than a quick google search to find someone to back me up on that. 🙂 http://ironghost.wordpress.com/2006/02/01/the-magnificent-minnesota-nun-brains/
My real point is that blogging is more than procrastination. It’s a crucial part of the reflective process, at least for me. Confession done.
So last night I went to CORE. It’s our chapter’s critique group which meets once a month. Readers bring 10-20 pages of material, read it aloud, and the whole table constructively critiques the pages.
The one critical element of this you don’t get online is the feedback loop and the group dynamic. Everything is done out loud. So you learn how to critique from more experienced members, you learn how to revise by absorbing everyone else’s comments….and you learn how to take and filter feedback. A LOT of it.
Anyway, I had a better public service message than how feedback is important. I love seeing the writers around me grow and improve. As a former teacher in a school with a HUGE emphasis on literacy, I believe just the act of writing and reading makes you better. Even if there is no instruction involved.
Of course, instruction and/or feedback can help guide you immensely. 🙂
When I see a writer buddy grow in leaps and bounds from one project to another, it makes me giddy. It reaffirms my beliefs. And I love genuinely getting excited about a new story. Those drafts that I’ve critiqued in CORE are going to be published books some day. I believe that wholeheartedly.
It reminds me of when Elaine, Dana, Kay and I were all struggling through our first novels together back in my first critique group. After working for two years, I still felt my writing wasn’t “there”. I’d improved, but not by enough. Then we started reading from our next projects and the growth in everyone’s writing was phenomenal. It was a pivotal moment for me, because I could see that once we were taken out of the confines of the “learning” book, that we had noticeably improved.
That second project for me was “Butterfly Swords”. Did I get a spider sense that this was going to be the one? Well, no. Not quite.
Well, yes. Yes, I guess I did. 🙂
Aug 06, 2009 @ 11:09:34
Oh I’d be so nervous reading my stuff out loud!
In my critique group, we all do edits beforehand and then let the writer know what needs improvement. Our group is super small though with only 7 core members. We meet weekly at local restaurants and most of the time there’s only 5 of us 😛 One will be leaving at the end of the year as he’s in the Air Force and he’ll be moving out of state. I’m afraid our group may die off in the next year if we can’t find more members. I’d be sad if that was the case 🙁
Anyway, not gonna worry about it now. I just need to get something written for them to critique; I only have a few pages of my new novel. 😛 So I should probably keep writing!
Aug 06, 2009 @ 12:21:28
I totally agree with you! I think journaling is a great stress reliever and the more you write the more growth you’ll see. It’s also fun and it’s a way for me to read up on friends I haven’t spoken to in a while… 🙂
Aug 06, 2009 @ 14:25:58
It really is amazing how much better you get the more you write. I’m not sure that writing is something that can be taught, but it’s definitely a muscle that needs to be exercised often if you want to be in prime condition.
Aug 07, 2009 @ 06:06:44
For my weekly group, we read ahead and just give the critiques when we meet. Of course, there’s also a good amount of chatting and catching up too. 🙂
I hate reading my stuff out loud, but it does help to hear the rhythm of your writing. You catch a lot of obvious errors right away when you read out loud that’s easy to miss when it’s just on paper and you’re only hearing it in your head.