A Community of Practice to Improve Your Creative Writing

Background and Mission

Twelve years ago I started writing fiction. I “completed” a novel over about five years and presented it to a couple of family members and a friend who gave me an earful of criticism along the lines of “most first novels don’t get published.” Undaunted, I went to my local bookstore and searched through the creative writing books to find help. I poured over Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King like some people read the bible–again and again. After revising ad nauseam according to their suggestions, my novel became an action-packed fraction of its former length. It became much better, I thought, although I never got more feedback because it felt like an imposition to ask the same people again, and I wasn’t comfortable asking anyone else. I went to a writers’ group that met at my local bookstore, but after spending one evening listening to people read impossible-to-understand passages out loud never went back. I sent excerpts to a few agents who might have been interested based on their blurbs in the literary guides, but nothing came of that either. As such, my novel languished in soft and hard copy never again to be seen by human eyes except for my own occasional forlorn gaze.

I turned sixty-four this year, and I decided it was time to fish or cut bait. As a teaching physician, schooling and training are in my protoplasm. I believe you can’t become a good doctor without hands-on training on real patients in a hospital from qualified mentors with other trainees in the same situation. I supposed that creative writing was analogous. As such, this summer I bit the bullet, cut my clinical load and enrolled in “Revision Demystified,” a Stanford Online Writer’s Sudio  course. I resurrected a discarded chapter from an early version of my novel and turned it into a stand-alone short story. I revised it based on workshop input I got from my teacher Stacey Swann and sixteen helpful classmates. I submitted the story for publication ten weeks after looking at it for the first time in eight years.

I’m now enrolled in my second  Stanford online course,”Writing 2.0: On Blogs and Blogging” that Allison Carruth teaches. My assignment is to launch a web blog. Since I’ve never been much for scatter shot pontificating, I decided to exploit what I learned from Stacey and Allison to produce Creative WOW: Creative Writers’ Online Workshop.

Creative WOW’s target audience is fiction writers that have experienced the same frustrations I have and are searching for a way to get the feedback they need to get better. Creative WOW will provide an opportunity to get help from other fiction writers by forming a “community of practice,” which Etienne Wenger defines  as “a group of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

Creative WOW’s mission in bullet-point format is:

  • To become a community of creative writers,
  • To offer a free online workshop for both aspiring and accomplished writers to test out works-in-progress on each other,
  • To sharpen your writing by providing and receiving constructive criticism, and
  • To support and educate each other.

If you’d like help with your stories, join the Creative WOW community now. The rules are simple. Submit a story or offer a critique  

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  1. Ed,

    Hats off to you for pursuing your own creative talent and encouraging others. Although I’m not a fiction writer, I’m enjoying looking over the writers’ shoulders and reading their entries. Here I discovered Gayatri’s story. So good!

    I look forward to seeing how this develops.

    Karyn

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