Before approaching your publisher, you—ideally—want to bring your writing to a few people for review. It could be a friend, a former teacher, a mentor, or a family member. Regardless of their relation, every piece of submitted writing should have gone under a few pairs of eyes before any type of submission—literary journals, publishers, and literary agents.
However, close friends and family might find it difficult to provide unbiased advice. Of course, they should still read through your work to provide feedback, but this should not be the only criticism you solicit. Perhaps your friends don’t know how to talk about literature, or maybe your family members feel uncomfortable providing criticism. If you want honest, constructive feedback, you should get it from a stranger or a professional. The former is always the easier, more cost-effective option. If you find yourself seeking a reader or someone to have a dialogue about writing, there is an indispensable tool you should utilize: the writer’s workshop.
Joining a writer’s workshop is an excellent strategy for getting your work into other people’s hands. These groups meet regularly, either in-person or online, to read and discuss member work. Here’s how it works: prior to the meeting, a writer will send their work to all group members. Everyone will arrive to the meeting prepared to discuss the writing, and a constructive conversation will build around that week’s reading. This is an excellent way to glean a new perspective on your writing. Maybe your character development could be better, or perhaps you’ve written every other sentence in the passive voice. Somebody in the group will point it out, and you’ll be able to address the issue—or think through why you don’t want to change something. This is essential for finding your writer’s voice, learning to respond to criticism, and incorporating new ideas.
Additionally, writer’s workshops meet regularly—either every week or every month. If you want to become a long-term member or take a workshop-centered class, this schedule will impose deadlines. Have you been struggling to finish that novel manuscript? Want to write more than one or two articles this year? Your hworkshop will hold you accountable for doing the work you want to write. Not only will you get excellent feedback, you will write more during your time in the workshop.