All writers ask for help at some point, whether from a friend, family member or peer. One of the best ways to get assistance is from a writing instructor.
The fallacy about writing instructors
is that those who can do; those who can't teach. But good instructors write and critique, and most have been where
you are and understand the writing life. They may not become
your best friend, but they’ll balance between objectivity and nurturing your
Why Get Outside Help
Writers at all levels eventually opt for help because when
we look at our own work it’s hard to see our mistakes, whether simple or
complex. Simple mistakes, such as grammar, punctuation and spelling, can be easy
to fix. But complex problems, such as structure and development, can be tricky. Instructors have invaluable knowledge of and
experience in these areas and know how to apply their skills to your project.
Working with an instructor can save time, energy and money because a professional will help you complete your project correctly and help you achieve your goals. Why spin your wheels because you’ve missed an essential craft element needed to do
To advance your writing, you’ll need an outside perspective. If you want to make
writing or communications a career or want your work published, it will constantly
be read, analyzed and critiqued. Why not learn to work under these conditions with an instructor now instead of later? Writing instructors also have contacts in the literary field,
and many have worked in it. As a result, they not only have wisdom but contacts.
What Writing Instructors Do and What
You Can Expect
Writing instructors come in various flavors, but most will both
proofread your work and help you improve it. Instructors scrutinize for big ticket
items, such as overall form and structure. They also provide another set of eyeballs, a sense of the
work’s weaknesses and strengths. They read to see whether your
writing flows and make sense, and for gaps, such as missing
transitions, explanations, examples or details. Practice is
the stuff of all good communication so don’t be surprised if your instructor
suggests another draft.
How to Work Well With an Instructor
To pair with an
instructor who will be a good match for you and your work, ask someone who knows you for a referral. If one instructor isn’t a fit, try
Avoid reacting immediately to corrections, which are often
more extensive and different from what you expected. Instead, put the comments
aside, and review them later. When you return to the corrected work, review
the corrections before passing judgment. Then test a few changes by
implementing them. You’ll should see improvement and understand the methodology
because you’ve seen both the before and the after.
When in doubt, ask
questions. Even when you work with an experienced instructor, miscommunication
can still occur so it’s best to understand each other upfront. Each instructor
relationship is unique, so don't be surprised if your experience differs from
that of others even after a referral. Critique, even when valid, is rarely easy
to accept, but it can be an opportunity to mature. How you handle criticism now
will set a precedent for how you handle it in the future. Remember, this is a learning
experience—often for both sides.