9 Workshop Wonders – By @marleygam
By Marley Muirhead
9 Workshop Wonders
Last week we had Caz’s workshop on creative writing and it made me realise just how much I missed that environment. I did creative writing at university and, probably rather naively, I assumed that SCA was going to be a similar kind of set up. At uni we would do exercises during the workshop, from free-writing to character profiles to observational writing. The one thing that I really liked was how we learned as a group and as a collective. We’d critique each other’s work as a group which was helpful in more ways than one. I mean for starters, you have the fact that you’re getting bucket loads of critique in one go. But what was really great is that your critique would form part of a discussion. Arts in general are insanely subjective. A piece than won a Nobel prize would still conjure varied and contradictory feedback. I remember actually a creative writing teacher saying that the second your work goes to print you see everything that’s wrong with it. Of course, I think she meant that you’re suddenly removed from your work so you can see it from a different perspective. You see all the different decisions you could’ve made creatively and in an anxious sweat start to wonder if that would’ve made your work better. I reckon that’s the same for advertising.
But, looping back, what is great about getting feedback in a group is that you get to see criticism become part of a conversation. Comments bounce off of each other, forming a dialogue about your work that I’d argue is more informative than stand-alone bits of criticism. It means that you’re able to extract more objective feedback about your work from subjective opinions. What was also really effective about writing workshops was that when people were discussing your work, you could not speak. You could not answer questions about your writing. Your ego’s tongue was clipped and you had to sit there and just take what was being said. That structure created a really unique shift in how people spoke about your work. You were expected to speak like they weren’t there. More brutally. More honestly. It stopped people sugar-coating what they said or feeling bad about their feedback; you were no longer talking about Marley, your classmate who you get lunch with on Tuesdays. It was all about the work. Weirdly, that disconnect made feedback easier to give and receive. Perhaps it’s because it’s what I’m used to, but I’d love to see a workshop-style feedback session with the work we do at SCA. Don’t get me wrong, there is every opportunity to get feedback at the school. You get as much as you ask for. And I agree that it’s your responsibility to seek feedback rather than expect it handed to you. But there’s something quite special about a workshop setting that offers a particular insight into how you can improve your work in the future.