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Walk into class with cautious optimism because this may be an early vomit draft in your hand, but you know you're onto something special here. You understand that the only way your work can get better is with honest, critical feedback, and you're totally open to edits from your peers because it's not like you have an ego. Kill you darlings and all that. At the end of the day, all you care about is producing the best final product possible. 

 

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Wait, what was that? You're not being defensive here, but did your writing workshop even read the thing? Of course the characters are underdeveloped and have no redeeming qualities. That's what you were going for! Listen, listen--you'll shut up in a second because your work speaks for itself, but you just gotta say one more thing in your defense.   

 

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Clearly no one in this class has any idea what they're talking about. Spend the rest of the workshop brooding, too distracted to offer anyone else productive or charitable feedback. And when you do deign to offer classmates your passive aggressive attention, focus only on their flaws and immaturity as writers. Because, oh yeah, like you'll take notes from Tyler, some self-indulgent Chuck Palahniuk wannabe who thinks he's so clever and edgy because his main character's bisexual. That'll be the day!

 

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The beer stage is really just a louder, more public airing of Stages 2 and 3, perhaps at a happy hour after class or an impassioned rant delivered to your partner while s/he makes dinner. You'll ponder important questions like "How dare they?" and "What the hell have they ever done that's so great?" It's not like you're precious about your work, either. You admit, hey, it wasn't perfect, but it's not like it was a six page double-spaced pile of cat turds. And--you're not the type to name names--but not everyone in the class can say that (Ashley!).  

 

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After a couple days when the sting isn't so fresh, you realize your classmates may not have been total douche-nozzles after all. Yeah, the dialogue does feel a little choppy, and you could do a better job of showing, not telling. Okay, point taken. Your peers may still be wrong about some (most) of their critiques, but at least you got one or two decent suggestions for moving forward. Which would be great, except... 

 

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Acceptance may be your goal, but there's no way someone as self-aware as you is going to just process criticism and move on like a grown up. Now that you and your critic agree you suck, why not do some introspective, high-school-style journaling? I mean, when you think about it, have you ever been good? Look back through some of your old notebooks and realize either: (1) your writing has always sucked, or (2) your old work was way better, and you've lost the gift. Either way, you suck in a totally unredeemable way. 

 

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Why do you even bother to write? You've always been one of those "hate writing, but like having written" types anyway. You're a fraud and everybody knows it. Where is this writing thing going anyway? Oh, you got two poems published in a community college lit journal with some Dust Bowl-sounding name. What was it--"Prairie Plough"? And it's not like anyone except your mom and the other hack authors read "Prairie Plough" anyway. Kiss your morning pages Word doc and that last gulp of that box wine goodbye.

 

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You've got a great new idea that you can't wait to share with your six Tumblr followers and writing cohort - #AmWriting!