Have you ever tried playing catch by yourself? If you are able to play at all, you probably know that it's not much fun without other people to play with.
Writing is often a solitary activity. Writers sit alone in front of a computer or with a pen and notebook in hand and pour their ideas into words and sentences that they hope will someday be read by others. When the first draft has been completed, the job of the writer is not over. It is only just beginning.
As writers, we know in our heads what we want to say. Unfortunately, it never comes out exactly right the first time we write it down. We can work and work on it, rewriting over and over again, but until we release it and allow another person to read it, we won't know where we have fallen short. There are always little snags we missed, something we didn't think about, that others will catch almost immediately. And we wonder...why didn't we see that before?
Writers need each other. We bounce ideas back and forth. We read each other's work, give encourage, and help others see where we have fallen short. It's like a game of catch. Except that every time the ball comes back to us, it has changed. We see our work differently -- we notice the flaws, the mistakes, and the potholes. But we also grow as writers. We become better at writing and at story-telling. We learn to depend on each other.
That's why writing groups, critique groups, and critique partners are so critical to writers. They show us what we cannot see for ourselves. We've been too close. The writing is too personal. They help us step back and see it from a reader's point of view. They help us write better. And they remind us, that no writer needs to write alone.
WRITING PROMPT: Do you have a writing partner? Or do you belong to a writing group? If not, ask someone to be your partner. Then, swap stories. Don't add any explanation or set-up. You don't have the opportunity to explain your story to a reader, so don't explain it to a writing partner. Ask them to be honest. Was there anything they didn't understand? Did they want to keep reading? Were they surprised about anything that happened? Was the ending satisfying? Their comments will help you become a better writer. Do the same for them! Give it a try today.
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