A friend just joined a writing group an mentioned that feedback can feel so personal. Here’s what I told her:
Writing groups can be so tricky, I think, because English classes teach us that the way to give feedback is through pointing out the problems, but that can be stifling in the early creative stages of a project.
If I’m at the very end or am stuck then I totally want someone to just tell me how to cut it up, but if it’s in a younger stage that feels so harsh and generally not useful.
I have always liked the 4 step feedback method I learned from storytelling coach Doug Lipman
. It’s up to the writer/receiver how far to go in the steps. Even if you only do the first one it’s really helpful to hear from multiple people what they like about the story.
*First: reader says specific things they like (might be plot element, language, imagery, tone, etc)
*Second: writer asks questions of the reader (ie, Was it clear that 1 year had passed? What did the main character look like to you?)
*Third: reader asks questions (ie, What feeling for you want the reader to have at the end? How old is the main character?) This step can be tricky because readers want to give suggestions but phrase them as questions.
*Fourth: reader gives suggestions; I think phrasing them as “what ifs” is best (What if you start with a flashback? I think you can cut the part about the dog).
Over the weekend Jay and I did our first ever play together! We played a married couple, along with our friends Jackson and Hannah. Dinner With Friends won the Pulitzer in 2000 and is an moving, accurate story about friendships and marriage (the highs and lows). It was powerful to not only do a play with my husband (who hadn’t done one since high school but who was amazing), but to tackle this topic.
We had great turn out for an off-season show (in tiny tourist town), and people said it really got them talking. Some said “that was a little too close to home at times!” and that this was the best theatre they’ve seen here in a long time. Great to know that people want some of the heavier stuff. (I had forgotten that relationship angst can be funny– there were a lot more laughs than I’d expected, though plenty were the laughter of recognition).
Enjoy a little photo recap:
Note: grape juice is FAR better than cranberry juice for fake wine. Especially if the cranberry juice is “lite” (it was on sale).
Theatre means dress up, make-up and hair spray! All rare in this practical northern climate.
FIRST TIME EVER!! I’ve never in our 10 years seen Jay put gel in his hair. But this was the 90’s…
Jackson, Jay & Hannah. (Jay is pointing to the sign that says no pictures in the dressing room…)
It’s so hard to say goodbye! (Actually, I was trying to get in for call on Friday…)
I followed this busyness up with some sleeping in, two movies (Girl Most Likely & Birdman), guitar playing, and a middle grade book splurge to counter the imminent feelings of “I never do ANYTHING” that show up immediately after I do something big.
I hope you had a lovely week/weekend!
I used to assume that living in a city meant more artistic opportunities and chances for exposure, but I’ve found the opposite is true, at least here in Grand Marais. It’s easy to get air time– just give a call to the station, assemble the cast, and start singing.
The cast of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”
Have a listen to the show’s finale (we sing at 4:45). We open Friday!! You can get tickets here.