Evolving the writer, Engaging the reader

by on Sep.19, 2012, under Process

When I think of how I have evolved as a writer, it is easy to see it as a staircase. Each jump, each step up in my writing ability came about due to a new understanding about what engaged the reader. Every time I learned what the reader wanted but did not get, or got but did not understand, my writing improved dramatically (as judged through the subsequent reviews of revisions or newer stories).

At this point in evolution, I’m not sure any other factor is involved in a writer’s growth. Most of the processes you learn in writing classes and workshops are tools to help the writer develop their vision. I can’t recall any of those tools being directly aimed at improving the writing output; the tools generally assist the writer in getting the job done.

This leads me to what I feel is an obvious conclusion: the only way to improve your writing is to put it in front of readers and get their response. The emotional engagement of the reader provides the only useful feedback from which to judge your output. And a reader who can elucidate which a certain piece really works for them, or really doesn’t work for them, provides the most valuable catalyst for growth as a I writer. For me, it seems to be the only catalyst.

Have you experienced something different? What works for you?

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