I needed yesterday. Two friends from Life is a Verb Camp, a retreat I attended in November, came to visit and learn about letterpress printing.
Recently, I’ve been feeling somewhat out of sorts with my creative life. Not sure of how to proceed, I just drifted from one project to another. But yesterday, I worked with these friends and found myself so caught up in not only printing but also sharing what I do and how I do it.
Hmmm, maybe I miss teaching? Maybe I ought to do this more often? Sometimes the Universe talks loudly and clearly. And I am listening.
So what’s my next step? I need to get more organized with my “stuff” and my process. That will happen over the next two months. Then I’ll begin to advertise for workshops. Yay, I have a plan!
I’ve been thinking a lot about feedback lately. In our writing/arts studio, we want creative people to feel free to explore and play–with words, paint, fiber.
For some of us, that’s enough. But others are looking for more, for feedback to finish/publish/sell a project.
So we’ve created different spaces for our various stages of production. If we’re exploring an idea, learning a new skill, or simply letting our creative side bloom, we go to Our Words or an Art Experience. If we need to know whether our project needs refining, polishing, or even tossing, we attend a Writing Workout or perhaps a private consultation with an artist.
But taking constructive feedback is difficult. Many of us struggle with perfectionism. We have trouble failing.
I love the 30/90 percent idea I read about this morning on 42floors.com:
We call it Thirty Percent Feedback. It’s a trick I learned from our investor, Seth Lieberman. It came about because I once asked him for feedback on a product mockup, and he asked if I felt like I was ninety percent done or thirty percent done. If I was ninety percent done, he would try to correct me on every little detail possible because otherwise a typo might make it into production. But if I had told him I was only thirty percent done, he would gloss over the tiny mistakes, knowing that I would correct them later. He would engage in broader conversations about what the product should be.
I think writers often don’t recognize we are at 30%, rather than 90%. We begin to focus on commas, when we should be reworking language (or revising the heck out of something).
I love giving labels to ideas.
I love writing with kids.
My friend Elizabeth Seaver and I are teaching a “Write a Book” camp this week. Yesterday we offered some creative exercises and the kids took off. We’ve got a lyrical story, a poem about an eggplant, and some unique ideas for cover design. In between workshop and lunch, we heard some of the best jokes 10 and 11-year-olds can tell.
And that was the first day! Stay tuned. I’ll share some of their work if they agree:)
As for my own writing, I’m thinking about John Truby’s advice: to craft a story based on a character’s psychological and moral needs. Let outside characters challenge the character’s personal flaw (or need). Ok, that helps me see some changes I need to make.
I was reading Sonia Terborg’s post this morning, a review of a book about working with young writers. I’m always looking for new ideas, and Sonia’s detailed explanation sold me. Within minutes, I had paid for and downloaded Workshops Work by Patricia Zaballos.
Now, in typical fashion, I’ve spent far too much time on Patricia’s blog, too. A homeschooling mom, she offers so many wonderful examples for writing, project-based learning, and “unschooling.”
I am looking forward to a full day of reading:)
Snacks, water bottles, white boards, and time to chat–all this made a difference in the success of our week-long writing camp, which ended today. What a gift to work in such a small group, sharing ideas, reading our writing, and talking about ways to improve. The boys, good sports both, worked hard on two different pieces of writing. And I wasn’t surprised to find that the conversations we had helped the most. This is, of course, the way to work with writers. You can’t be at the front of the room. You must sit with the student, talking about the strengths, asking questions…..nodding and encouraging.
One of the boys had brought a MacAir, so before I could say “sure,” he had set up his iphone as a hotspot, pulled out and set up his iPad for another boy, and opened Google Docs to start typing. So much the notebooks I’d purchased:)
He also texted me this, which I hadn’t seen but seemed so appropriate for the week:
I sure love middle-schoolers.