Have you cringed at all?
No matter who you are, or what threshold of writing you've reached, workshopping isn't easy. While it is a part of being a growing professional (in every field), workshopping means criticism, and criticism scares people. That being said, workshops are also a source of inspiration and can help take your work to the next level.
This is how to be a good workshopping, even if it freaks you out a little.
Establishing norms help to keep a workshop constructive and focused. Before a workshop, no matter how experienced you are, or how many times you have with a particular group, develop and review the norms.
In workshops, norms are rules that everyone has agreed to abide by. Common workshopping norms include:
- Work focused, not writer focused
- Discuss likes AND areas for improvement (not hates or dislikes)
- Don't get distracted (no existential metaphorical questions)
- The writer must remain silent until the end, and can only comment and/or respond at that time.
Before walking into a workshop, you need to be prepared for a few things. First, have the piece you're workshopping printed - this makes it easy to take notes and record comments in the right sections. Second, have the work of others printed out and already marked up with feedback. When your work is being workshopped, it's nice to take something physical back with you when you start making changes. Also, be awake. Maybe you need coffee or a snack, but walk into a workshop energized and ready to get the most out of the time spent.
When Workshopping Others
When workshopping others, there are a few rules to abide by. First, always discuss what the writer did well. Feel free to mention your favorite sections. From here, you want to start asking questions and addressing areas where you felt confused, needed more clarification, or just felt the writer could expand.
When workshopping others, keep your tone upbeat - you aren't here to blow up a person's work. Your job is to provide them with constructive tangible feedback.
When Being Workshopped
When your work is being workshopped, you might feel a little anxiety. This is totally normal. Remember, workshopping doesn't invalidate the effort you've put into this draft. What workshopping does do is allow you to see the perspective of a reader; in that way, workshopping is about enhancing the reader's experience. Of course, workshopping demands that you grow professionally. Taking and implementing feedback is a skill that translates across all mediums, and will make your writing better.
How to Be Good at Workshopping
Being good at workshopping is all about being willing to engage in meaningful conversations about your work and the work of others. No one's work is "too good" to workshop. Lastly, participating in workshops holds you accountable and immerses you in a creative community, both of which are valuable.
Ultimately, workshops allow you to enhance your revision skills, which is invaluable to every serious and casual writer.