Rejuvenating My Writing

A couple of months ago at a Range Writers meeting, we were given a handout entitled “20 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Writing This Spring.” This was written by Christina Baker Kline, the author of Orphan Train and other books. You can read the article at http://christinabakerkline.com/2011/05/20-ways-to-rejuvenate-your-writing-life-this-spring/ . Here are four ways I rejuvenate my writing year round.

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  1. Don’t let your inner critic intervene until you’ve finished the piece. Having been raised by English teachers who are now in the hereafter, I feel their spirits guiding me when I write. I even have to stop myself from reaching for the backspace keey when I realize I’ve made a typographical error. Even those can wait unitl the editing process.

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  1. If at all possible, write during the week and reserve laundry and other domestic chores for the weekend. At times, this isn’t possible so I try to handle such chores before I write so I’m not distracted.

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  1. Don’t be afraid to share your work with others. I’m talking about groups that involve writing for about fifteen or twenty minutes and then reading aloud what you’ve written. Sharing isn’t a problem for me. In my writing groups, others think it’s funny that I always offer to go first when it’s time to share. When I keep silent in order to allow someone else to go first, another person says, “Well, Abbie, aren’t you going to go first?”

“Well, if nobody else will,” I say. Writing groups provide an open and friendly environment in which you can share so I’m not afraid.

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  1. Be open to and provide constructive criticism. The objective of most writers’ groups is to help participants improve their work so it can be published. I listen carefully when changes are suggested. I realize that my poem, story, or essay is my baby, and I’m under no obligation to change it.

A writer in one of my groups told another writer her work was  boring. I thought this comment was way out of line and wish I’d told the first writer so. Instead, I remained silent except for a couple of times when I said, “uh huh” in agreement with what the first writer was saying about the second writer’s piece. As a result, the second writer thought the first writer and I were ganging up on her. I should have disagreed with the first writer during our meeting and then e-mailed her privately, explaining why she shouldn’t have said that and suggesting she apologize. Oh well, live and learn.

If I think a piece is boring, I suggest ways the writer can make it interesting. I also try to find one positive thing about the piece, even if it’s boring. I’ve learned that honesty is important, and if a writer is offended by a sugestion I make, it’s her problem, not mine.

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If you’re an author, how are you rejuvenating your writing?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

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4 thoughts on “Rejuvenating My Writing

  1. Great post, Abbie. In our groups we always start with what we like about the piece we are critiquing and then talk about what we think could be made better. No one should ever use such language as “boring” when critiquing. We are not there to knock someone down, but to encourage and help them make it better. I have been part of a poetry group for twenty years and I’ve never been hurt or offended by one of our poets, but I have had the most wonderful suggestions that made my poems so much better.

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