Sunset Coast Writers workshops differ from traditional writing groups, in which members submit a work-in-progress for critique. Although the dictionary defines “critique” as “detailed evaluation,” all too often it translates to “tear it to pieces,” a process that many believe is the only way for a writer to learn. I disagree. While there is a place for measured review of completed work, there is also a place for encouraging – and in some cases, reviving – the creative spark that resides within each of us.
At Sunset Coast Writers, we write together in response to prompts I offer, using the Amherst Writers & Artists method developed by Pat Schneider. After we write, we are invited (but not forced) to read our work aloud. Fresh writing can be fragile, and so we respond only with what we liked, what worked well, and what we will remember. Not until a piece of writing has been presented in a typed form for group review do we offer suggestions that might help the writer fulfill his or her own intention for the work.
Experienced as well as new writers benefit from this process: By learning to recognize strengths in the writing of others, we learn to build upon our own strengths rather than focusing solely on our weaknesses. Many who come to the workshops seeking motivation find themselves writing more – and more freely. Writing begets writing: the more you write, the more you write – and the more you improve.
Download our guidelines for writing together (pdf:12kb).