Writing takes up a huge portion of my time as a PR and so getting writing feedback is incredibly important. From news releases to thought leadership pieces, emails to social media copy, every single day I write thousands of words at work. This blog being a case in point.
I’ve done lots to improve my writing over the years (and still have a long way to go) but the one thing that’s made the biggest difference and the piece of advice I will give over and over again is to get workshopping.
There is simply no better way to improve your writing than asking people what they think of it. And it’s got to be in the right context too, which is why I so highly recommend being part of a writing workshop. Whether it be colleagues, friends or just fellow writers, being part of a workshop group will 100% take your writing to the next level. It’s all about getting that writing feedback.
What is a writing workshop?
A writing workshop is a group of people who exchange pieces of writing and give each other constructive feedback. This means positive feedback, as well as constructive criticism, and it means giving feedback as well as receiving it. A writing workshop can be set up with just about anyone from colleagues to friends and family to other people who write, but the important thing is establishing clear rules and boundaries up front. Workshop has to be a safe space; a space where there are no bad ideas and nothing is considered a failure except being mean or not showing up.
- Honest feedback only
- Must be constructive and not just critical
- Must be specific and actionable
- Criticism and praise must always come in equal balance
- Participants must be open to feedback and not defensive
- Equally not every piece of criticism has to be taken on board (you can’t force someone to change something)
Workshopping is a skill and a practice. Both giving and receiving feedback is something you learn over time as you do more of it. Offering feedback will become more natural and knowing what criticism to take on board and when gets easier too.
Why feedback is so crucial?
It is literally impossible to view your own writing objectively. You’ll always be far too close to the work to be able to spot every little angle and every missed opportunity. Having other people review your work will give you new perspectives and open your eyes to things about your writing you couldn’t see before.
I’ve been part of many writing workshops throughout the years, some formal and some informal. In work, my colleagues and I regularly swap press releases, blogs and opinion pieces, giving each other feedback on what we’ve written. We also always proof each other’s work. Another pair of eyes is always appreciated!
In a more formal context, I was first introduced to the idea of structured workshopping in university. I did a creative writing degree and masters programme and workshopping was a huge part of both courses. They were so effective in making me a better writer that I still workshop parts of my novels (the writing I do outside of PR) with friends from uni to this day (four years later) and I still find it invaluable.
Nothing will improve your writing more quickly or effectively than workshopping. If you’re looking to maximise the effectiveness and impact of every piece of writing you do, regularly giving and receiving feedback is a sure fire way to see big improvement, fast.
For more writing tips check out our seven quick tips to improve your writing.