Judgement Free Zone
July 28, 2015
by: Kevin Hagan
As writers, it sometimes happens that our fiction, reports, memos, or essays inaccurately convey our intent. The tone could be off, or the voice might be too formal or informal, or maybe the text doesn’t fit a specific prompt or an assignment’s criteria. If a piece of writing will have an intended audience, it’s a good idea to have a second pair of eyes look over what we’ve written. However, there are times when our readers can come across as a bit—aggressive. Abrasive. Abusive, even. It’s all too easy to find ourselves with hurt feelings and getting defensive over what feels like a personal condemnation. It’s important for us to remember that these readers are doing us a favor. Writers should keep an open mind and consider a reader’s criticism. After all, an honest critique of a piece of writing is not a critique of us as people. We are not being judged; our readers are simply trying to help us present our writing in the best possible way
One great way to get around the fear of literary bullying is to find someone who is completely non-judgemental about the writing he or she is reading. There are people out there who can read over the words on a page, and, instead of making judgements they will ask, “Does this say what the writer wants to say? Does it express the writer’s voice?” At the UWC, we understand that, for some writers, the text we’re reading is their “baby.” They’re attached to it. There’s blood, sweat, and tears in those words. That’s why it’s so important to us not to come at reading from a critical perspective, but instead have a conversation with the writer. That’s why you’ll never see us come into a session wielding the red pen of death, and you’ll never walk away with a bleeding paper. We’ll tell you honestly and openly what we get from what you’ve written and if it effectively expresses your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. After all, writing is a process. You don’t judge musicians by their rehearsals, athletes by their practices, or artists by their paint palettes. You wouldn’t judge a paper that way, and neither would we. We will offer an honest opinion regarding a text’s content, tone, and appropriateness regarding a prompt or assignment. So avoid the bullies; come to the UWC and let’s talk in the judgement free zone!