Guest blog by Stephanie Nickel – Lessons learned from my writers’ group

I met Stephanie Nickel at our first WWC meeting. She’s such a bubbly person and easy to talk to. We connected right away. I appreciate her encouraging spirit and positive attitude.

I’m honoured to have Steph write a guest post for me. She’s an active blogger. Check her out at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She’s also an editor at Christian Editing Services.

You’re right Steph, we do learn a lot from our WWC group! Leave a comment and let her know how much you enjoyed her post.

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First of all, I want to thank Dar for the opportunity to write a guest post. I’m honoured.

Women Writing for Christ began several years ago. The original group consisted of Ruth Waring, Lisa Hall-Wilson, Darlene, and me. Heather Joyes joined us soon thereafter. I love this group of ladies and those who have joined us since: Barbara, Rita, Heather, and Linda. Though Ruth has moved north, Darlene continues to open her home to us each month, except during the winter when driving in Canada can be an adventure—and not the good kind.

Over the years, I’ve learned many lessons about writing—and about life. I’d like to share a few with you.

One of the first lessons we all learned, from the book Writing Alone, Writing Together by Judy Reeves, was to identify ourselves as “writers”—not “wannabes,” not “aspiring writers”—just “writers.” That is an lesson some find easier to apply than others.

I’ve also learned that when someone asks for your opinion on a piece they’ve written, it can mean one of many things: 1) Give me your first impression. 2) Does this stink? (Stink is one of the forbidden words at WWC so we don’t ask this in so many words.) 3) Should I throw in the towel and never write again? 4) Are there any glaring errors? 5) Please tell me what needs changing so I can make it the best it can be.

Being a freelance editor as well as a writer, I had to learn the difference between the various editing levels. When someone gives me a piece to look over, they aren’t necessarily asking for a copyedit or proofread. While my tendency is to zero in on the nitpicky things, they may only be asking for my overall impression. When we ask someone to read our work, she needs to know what we really want from her.

And if complete honesty is what is wanted, some people do it much better than others. Because they’re critical and mean? No. Because they go over their own work with the same intense scrutiny. When someone takes the time to do that for me, I’m grateful. Does it sometimes sting just a little? Of course, but that’s okay.

I have three choices when it comes to the advice I get: 1) ignore it (But why would I do that since I asked for the critique?); 2) apply all the suggestions (That is not likely the best option. After all, there is a certain level of subjectivity in any critique.); and 3) think through each suggestion and apply those that I believe will make my writing better (This is the option I would most highly recommend.)

Just as there are different kinds of edits and different kinds of critiques, there are different kinds of writers. From what we write to our ideal writing environment . . . From our aspirations to our individual “voice” . . . From our writing level to our personal sources of inspiration . . . We are unique, but we can learn and grow together. We can also cheer one another on and teach the others what we’re learning.

But more important than any of these things is my favourite observation of all: I have been blessed with some incredible friends—who just happen to also be fellow writers. Write on, ladies. Write on!

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8 thoughts on “Guest blog by Stephanie Nickel – Lessons learned from my writers’ group

  1. Thanks Steph, for sharing this info about writers. I have learning from watching Dar, its a life long journey and so …. much more involved than we could ever realize.
    Great to have my sissy here to visit. I am grateful for all your encouragement to her.

  2. Stephanie, you are right on. Thank you Darlene for a great blog and for Stephanie’s input. I’ve grown to love the hard-nosed edits. Without them, I’d be lost as a writer.

  3. We do have a great group and have been very blessed through the years by the friendship, encouragement, and learning. Hopefully we have several more years to learn together. Great post.

  4. So glad you’ve created and maintained such an awesome group! Great points on deciding how to respond to others’ feedback. It’s important weigh feedback we take seriously against our gut instincts, too. :)

  5. So nice to read each of the comments from the Original WWC group. Just had to add mine, too! Steph, your article was really well done, but no surprise there! I have to admit I smiled when I read about the ‘s’ word…Remember the other ones: Silly! Ridiculous! Stupid! Failure! All prohibited at our meetings and for good reason. Great read!! Miss you all.Enjoy the east coast, Dar. I’m heading there in September for 2+ weeks on a book tour and speaking ministry. Would love to chat when you get home.

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