Here I am on Day 3 of the Authors’ Blog Challenge and I’m posting again! What writing courses or workshops have I participated in? At Glendale Community College I took some Creative Writing courses back in 2000 and 2001. I took Laura Schuette’s Novel Writing course there and was very impressed. I learned a lot about setting scenes and descriptive writing from her. Her class was also where I was introduced to critiquing. Laura impressed upon us the importance of having our work critiqued by other authors and how it would help us to harden our shells when those bad reviews came in.
I took a few online courses, but find I enjoy the interaction with actual live people more. You can get practical information from online classes, much like you can from books, but there is no personal feeling involved.
Eighteen months ago I began attending the Central Phoenix Writers’ Workshop on Wednesday nights at HobNob’s Coffee Shop at the corner of 3rd Ave and McDowell in Phoenix. This is a Meetup Group and they have meetings almost everyday of the week in different locations around central Phoenix. I have also attended the Monday night meetings at The Songbird Café on 3rd Street. I cannot recommend anything more! I’ve been told my writing has improved 3000% since I began attending. Each of us brings 6 copies of the work we plan to present. We break up into croups of 5 or 6. Each person at the table gets a copy of your work and follow along as you read it out loud. After reading, each person at the table gives the reader comments about the work. They mark their questions and comments on their copies as they read along. The author gets great feedback on the work and can go back and see where the readers thought they were weak or strong. Grammar is not focused upon strongly here, though the pages may be marked with grammar changes. Content, word usage, and sentence structure are the areas of focus.The author collects the copies of their work before the next reader’s turn and takes them home to study. This is a group for writers. Many are beginners as I was upon first attending, others are experience authors with several books under their belts. There are also experienced editors and retired Language Arts instructors in the group.
Participating in this group does help you harden your shell and learn how to take criticism of your work. Those reviews bashing your work slide off a little easier when you’ve learned how to take them to improve your craft and not as a slap in the mouth. Not everyone is going to love every word you write or every subject you write about. What’s important is that you learn to write it well. Weeping over a bad review doesn’t do a writer any good and getting hot-headed only makes you look like a petulant child. When you get lemons, make lemonade! That’s what a good critique group does. It turns lemons into lemonade.
I was asked to speak at the Southwest Valley Writers’ Conference being held in Avondale, AZ on November 7 this year. The theme this year is The Business of Writing. I asked 2 of my critique group partners Cody Wagner and Jacob Shaver to join me and we will be speaking about writing as a team sport, writer, critique group, and editors working together to create a great manuscript. I think it will be fun.
Until tomorrow: Write On!