Writers–academic, creative, professional–live busy lives. I mean BUSY. Writers juggle personal, professional, and writing lives all at once, and sometimes it’s too much. So, goes the common refrain, when there is barely time enough to write, who has time to rewrite?
A very good question. I’ll throw one right back at ya.
Can you find 30 minutes in one day? Not every day. Just. One. Day.
Because thirty minutes can make a vast improvement in your writing, whether you’re a blogger, novelist, or academic.
And get this, I’m not talking about spending those 30 minutes writing.
While you need to write as often as possible to improve your skills, what I’m suggesting is spending thirty minutes a week or a month talking to someone about your writing. Here’s how a half hour conversation with a carefully chosen critique partner or trusted confidant can make you a better writer.
Find a Partner
Finding a great writing or critique partner is a must if you wish to improve your writing. A good partner can help you see gaps and flaws in your own work that are invisible to you. They can also cheer you on when you need a boost. This person plays an important role in your writing life, so they need to be chosen carefully. You want a writing partner who is compatible with you, so consider these issues when choosing them:
- Do they write at a similar pace to you?
- Are they familiar with your genre?
- Do they have knowledge or expertise that is valuable to you?
- Are your schedules compatible?
If you answered yes to these questions, you may have found your writing partner soul mate. Hook em before someone else does!
This person will be your go-to. You will probably want to ask them to read your drafts, but you can also ask them to set aside a certain amount of time each month to talk with you about your writing.
Prepare a List of Questions and Concerns
Before you send your work to your writing partner, you’ll want to write one more thing: a writer’s memo. I’ve talked about this before on the Empowered Writing blog, but it’s worth mentioning again (and again and again) because it’s crazy useful. You’ll basically write a short document, an email even, to your partner, outlining your concerns for the writing, questions, and any important info they need to know about the project.
For more on writers’ memos, read this post.
Or, you can download my free guide to creating the perfect writer’s memo here!
Listen and Take Notes
When you sit down for your face-to-face feedback session, make sure you have your favorite note-taking device handy. Are you a paper and pen person like I am? That’s fine, make sure you’re ink well is bottomless and your pages are infinite. If you’re a tablet, phone, or laptop note-taker, make sure all batteries are charged and new documents are pulled up.
You’ll want to write down not only the insightful stuff your partner is telling you, but also any questions you have about their feedback. This way, you can let them say what they need to say without interruption and be prepared to respond when they are done.
That’s the beauty of this strategy, after all. You can react to feedback in real time, getting answers to your questions and responses to your ideas immediately.
What about you guys? Do you TALK with your writing or critique partner, or does all feedback happen through writing?