Monday, January 11, 2010

A Little Help From My Friends....

This week is the end of the semester at my school. A whole new group of students start next week (we’re on a block schedule), so that means a lot of paper grading with finals. Phew! The end is in sight, though, and I’ll get there, although I’ll be sad to see my students leave.

One of the assignments I’ve been working on is for my Creative Writing class. My students write final extended stories (eight pages or more), and we’re working on peer feedback. I have a whole format that I use for feedback. My students are great at providing feedback, and they love to read each other’s stories.

When I first introduced peer feedback, I told my students a whole bunch of cheesy stuff like how, “no good piece of writing has even been created by writing a first draft. One must write, rewrite and rewrite some more. The process of writing can often be long and sometimes tedious.” Seriously, that’s what the paper I gave them said.

I then proceeded to pull out The Beatles for their inspirational words and told them that in writing, “you get by with a little help from your friends.” I talked about how important it is to read a piece of writing critically, because you want your classmates to do the same for you.

I’ve brought up my own writing a few times in class. Whether I’m discussing the pieces I write for the MFA program or my book, I let them know that writing is hard work. I always mention how I’ve probably gone through fifteen or more drafts for my book (so far!), and they think I’m crazy. But it’s so true, writing takes time, and it takes revisions and it takes friends.

I’m lucky enough to have some great readers. The girls on Absolute Write have helped back my novel what it is today, my agent reads it with a critical eye and my school librarian extradonaire lets me know exactly what teenagers want. It’s so important to have a strong support system around you who can be open and honest about your writing.

What about you? Do you like feedback on your writing? Who helps you with your writing? What kind of feedback do you look for?

6 comments:

Melissa said...

I love feedback on my writing. My betas are the greatest people in the world, simply because they offer real advice. I'd much rather someone appraise and critique my work with a careful eye than simply tell me how wonderful something is - if that makes sense. :)

Michelle said...

My critique group The Slushbusters are essential. I'd never be able to submit anything anywhere without their go-ahead!

And I agree with Melissa. A good critique is far more valuable than empty praise.

Lisa and Laura said...

We have one very trusted beta reader who reads everything we write. Can't imagine life without her! Actually, I can, but our books would probably suck.

Kara said...

You are such a good teacher! Feedback is so important to me when I am writing. However, it is just as important to know when to listen and when to ignore what other people think. ;)

à la vanille said...

Ah! You are an AWESOME teacher! You played THE BEATLES! I LOVE The Beatles! The process you have with your students is a great one. I wish you were my teacher! Lol.(sorry for all the capital letters & exclamation marks - I'm excited.)

Kristan said...

For my new WIP, I'm trying something I've never done before: Alpha readers! Aka cheerleaders, lol. I've always thought I should finish something and edit it once myself before I let anyone else see it, but that means it's all up to me to motivate and pace. The truth is, I'm not that great at those two things all by myself for long periods of time. (Short stories? Sure! 75k novels? Er, not so much.) So I'm going to see if Alphas help keep me chugging along. Then I'll bring in the Betas to help me fix what I rushed through! :P