Monday, September 12, 2011

Workshop Peer Review: Helping Writers Improve through Directed Feedback

Today we're going to look at how we provide feedback to help our peers improve their writing.  Receiving feedback can help you better understand how your audience perceives what you've written - giving feedback will help you attune your senses as to what's important in written work.

Workshop Peer Review - Four Rules of Progressive Feedback

Assumption of the Writing Workshop: Our Writing Undergoes Continual Change
No one writes in a vacuum.  We grow and change over the whole course of our lives - in a way, you are a different person each day.  Likewise, your writing will adapt with the times.  The goal of the writing workshop is to help you see the direction your writing is going while providing specific ideas on how to improve.

How Providing Feedback Helps Everyone Improve
It's a very sad fact: there aren't enough writing teachers out there.  And sometimes you need to be careful: many professional writers and editors will charge a great deal of money to provide personal feedback on your work - feedback which might not help your writing.

This is part of why peer review is such an important component of improving as a writer.  Although professional feedback is helpful, it's more important to receive frequent and helpful feedback from a community of writers.  A diverse collection of opinions from multiple readers can often prove more helpful than close, specific feedback from a single writer.
I started 12Writing in 2008 because I was frustrated by some of the writing courses I was taking.  I spent a few hundred dollars on online and in-person workshops which didn't meet my expectations - I felt that I could do a better job myself.

I was only partly right.  What I've found is that the best courses cultivate feedback from multiple perspectives.  The most helpful workshops are those which fully involve all the writers in the course, whether they are teachers or students.  (I hope you'll come to see that most of us are a combination of both.)

In addition, providing feedback to your fellow writers will help you better understand what we look for in good writing.  By identifying the strengths and weakness in the work of others, you'll come to understand those aspects of your own work, too.

Adjust Your Feedback to Meet the Writer's Needs
Every writer takes a different approach to providing feedback.  For our class, we'll be following a few specific rules regarding how to give feedback which is both helpful and constructive.  You can find them in the post Rules of Progressive Feedback.

For more information on the various types of writing feedback, please see my article on Positive, Negative, and Progressive Feedback.  In particular, you'll want to take a look at the section on how Progressive Feedback can promote the future focus of your writing.

Workshop Peer Review - Four Rules of Progressive Feedback


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