The Most Frustrating Part of Your Story May Be the Best

From Electric Lit:

In our series “Can Writing Be Taught?” we partner with Catapult to ask their course instructors all our burning questions about the process of teaching writing. This month we’re talking to Megan Giddings, author of Lakewood, who is teaching an upcoming six-week workshop on creating characters in fiction.

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What’s the best thing you’ve ever gotten out of a writing class or workshop as a student? 

I learned that often when people keep talking about the same thing in a story and try to diagnose what’s wrong with it, that’s usually the most alive part. You might have to alter how it’s written, but it’s probably the thing the story needs to actually be worth reading. 

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever gotten out of a writing class or workshop as a student? 

I had an instructor tell me that she didn’t think “I had it” and I should think seriously about maybe switching from fiction to poetry. If I had been a younger writer, it probably would’ve killed my writing for a long time to have someone in authority say that to me.

What is the lesson or piece of writing advice you return to most as an instructor? 

Learn to love specificity. 

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Would you ever encourage a student to give up writing? Under what circumstances?

I wouldn’t ever encourage a student to give up writing, but I would point them toward learning how to write without getting attention. There’s a big difference between writing because you love it and the process and writing because you want money, attention, praise. The latter will only hurt you throughout your career. Writing and knowing it might just be for you and learning to be fine with that is important. 

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Should students write with publication in mind? Why or why not? 

Students shouldn’t draft with publication in mind, but when they’re at a point where they’re making a serious revision, they should start thinking about readers. Drafting with publication in mind will often kill creativity. 

Link to the rest at Electric Lit