Workshops: Good or Bad?

In Finding Water, Julia Cameron advocates networking with other artists to create your own community of support and avoiding reading reviews of your work altogether. This leaves me with the same question as I had at the end of the Artist’s Way: what place is there for criticism? Sure, we spend a lot of time silencing our inner critics since they obstruct the development of work altogether, and reading reviews after a work is released is like crying over spilled milk: it’s out in the world and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Statler and Waldorf, The Muppet Show's resident critics.

At the same time, writers especially are prone to imperfection. We really can become too enamored of certain aspects of our work and lose sight of the whole picture. Which is why, with considerable trepidation, I’ve joined a writer’s workshop group.

It’s an all-genre affair run by a woman who has had real practice running such groups. My first foray brought home to me how very beneficial I found the writer’s workshops in graduate school…and also how very much I don’t get along with certain people who take part in those programs. You know how in a sea of praise it’s the one negative comment that ruins your day?

In this case, it’s a specific person, one of those female douches who’s under 40 but still wears the stupid “I’m accessorizing” scarf. There were several times where I would say something and she would do the whole dramatic-reaction thing – and I actually caught myself apologizing for being myself. No. This is not acceptable.

I want to benefit from joining this group, but what do I do about the crazymaker? And what am I risking, exposing myself to regular criticism?

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1 thought on “Workshops: Good or Bad?”

  1. Exposing yourself to regular criticism is not really a risk, if you do not respect the source. Do not engage with the crazymaker, and eventually she will find another victim(s). And being criticized is not the same as being judged, particularly if the criticism is made in a positive spirit. Or if half the room did not understand a particular plot point. Hold on to your belief in your work and your point of view, and try to detach.

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