Guidelines for Sharing in Groups

There are several purposes for sharing writing in groups. An obvious one is to help each other. Sometimes, however, a writer just needs to be heard, in which case neither critique nor praise may be what is wanted. In addition, we also learn and grow by listening as well as sharing. In an effective group, almost everyone does BOTH.

Only writers know what they are trying to say. This means that while listeners can explain how they understood the words, it is up to the writer to decide whether and how to use any advice.

Be polite and respectful. Treat others and their ideas the way that you would want yourself and your ideas to be treated.

Give others the chance to speak. If you want to share something from a longer piece that you have written, consider sharing an important part or a chunk of your work that you are really proud of – not the entire thing.

Speak up for yourself and others. If advice or suggestions are being requested, your perspective deserves attention, even if it isn’t perfect or finished. If you enjoy something that a person shares, tell them, and tell them why.  If you don’t, it’s okay to share your feelings, but make sure you focus on the words, not the person. In both cases, try to be calm, fair, and specific.

Relax, have fun, and remember that you’re not being judged or graded. Writers, don’t worry about “doing it the right way.”  Your writing is, first and foremost, for you. Make sure that you make your most important reader happy.