A lot of beginning writers tend to be very guarded about their work, unwilling to show what they’ve written to others outside a handful of friends or family members. But this is often the reason why they don’t get enough critical response to realize the value of revision. Criticism is one aspect of the writing life that writers should embrace more.
And there’s no better venue for soliciting advice and constructive critique than a writing workshop. In many countries where there’s a blossoming or established culture of creative writing, part of the so-called rite of passage to make it into the writing circles is to pass one’s pieces to national writing workshops. Once a young writer gets accepted, his or her work then gets studied or “workshopped” by a panel composed of often established poets, fictionists, and essayists.
The workshop is an important place to learn key writing values like close-reading other people’s work, creating distance from one’s own if it does need a revision or even an overhaul, and, all in all, learning to leave one’s ego out the door. Writers can sometimes get too self-absorbed, something not helped by non-critical praise of their work from people close to them. But it’s within the bigger community of fellow writers that our work should be subjected to scrutiny.
No one writes in a vacuum. If writers are to truly hope to be read by the world, especially by strangers, and for their works to stand the test of time, then the well-rounded critique that occurs in writing workshops is something they must face. After all, the really committed would ask questions and persist even if initial reactions to his or her piece are not positive.