Developing thick skin...

Subject: Developing thick skin...
From: Tina Sansom <kms -at- PLAZA -dot- DS -dot- ADP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 1994 11:09:27 -0800

Sherri Hall wrote:

>Regarding the thread about students critiquing one another's work. They
>better get experience while they're in the safe environment of the
>classroom because I can guarantee you people will be critiquing their
>work once they start writing professionally! While I was taught the
>research and writing stages well, I wish I had been better prepared for
>the editing stages . . . .

I couldn't agree more!

I remember some very awkward and affronted feelings in my first few months as a
technical writer, having my work edited by other people. My only experience
was with college professors writing comments on academic papers, which was no
comparison. I usually had a lot of respect for my professor's writing skill,
and there was usually only _one_ reader.

In my current job, I have anywhere from 5 to 10 reviewers, all with their
own opinions of how I ought to do things. Some are useful, some are valid,
some aren't at all. Many people editing my work have lots of technical
knowledge and relatively little knowledge of good writing. I have to learn
to know my reviewers, know their strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes take
their suggestions with a smile and a grain of salt. And also, to learn to take
their remarks as _suggestions_ and not attacks on my work or my character.

I have definitely come a long way, and have developed a thick skin. It even
amuses me now to have reviewers return my work with all sorts of _apologies_
for finding errors or writing suggestions. I worry when there aren't any
suggestions--I know that it usually means they didn't read it.

I think students need to learn to give and take criticism, _especially_ because
they are peers. My workmates are my peers. I often have other technical
writers edit my work, in fact I want them to edit my work. There are ways
of editing that are constructive and positive, rather than negative. These
writers at work who edit my work are also my friends--we drink coffee and see
movies together, just as students do. If there is any way to get peer editing
into class, I would do it. And, BTW, we are still friends after editing!

Also, as editing goes, a much more realistic situation in my work world than
talking in groups, is editing another's draft on my own, and giving it back
to the writer. Maybe you could assign editing as homework--have students
trade papers?

Tina Sansom "You see, it takes all the running you can do, to
kms -at- plaza -dot- ds -dot- adp -dot- com keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere
(503)294-4200 x2326 else, you must run at least twice as fast!"
--Lewis Carroll, _Through the Looking Glass_

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