I’ve been part of writing groups, both in person and informally online. The best way to improve your own writing and be able to read it critically is to learn how to critique other people’s writing.
It’s easier to find problems in other people’s writing, because you experience it as the reader rather than the author.
I’ve grown as a writer through working with Justine on Over the Invisible Wall and having a consistent exchange of writing. We’ve been reading and critiquing each other’s work since the beginning. That helps both of us to see what we’re doing right and wrong and point that out to the other person.
This is the blogging month with Praxis, and we write a post and comment on two other people’s posts everday. Not only are we practicing writing itself, but we’re also practicing writing critique.
I’ve made a point of noting places the post I read was confusing or distracting or any other problems that seemed to be in how the post was written.
But I’m not overly critical of the piece, and my approach is important. If I only provide negative feedback, that will bring my cohort down.
I can’t just point out what’s wrong, I also have to point out what’s right and what I like about the post.
Having that positive feedback is not only encouraging, it also makes it easier to take the criticism, to realize that it’s not an attack, but intended to be helpful.
With my experience of giving critique in the past and practicing it now, I’m improving my ability to look at my own work critically. I get quicker at recognizing the problems in my own posts, my own writing, and learn how to fix them.
Writers can’t improve in a vacuum. Writing practice will take you far, but critique can multiply the benefits for you and your fellow writers.