A friend sent me this engaging presentation by Brandon Rhodes. It’s great viewing for anyone who loves Tolkien’s work, and would like to know more about the process, hard work, motivation and discussions that went into his writings.
The talk draws material from the excellent work of Diana Pavlac Glyer, who has published several works on the community of scholarship, creativity and friendship among the Oxford writing group, Inklings. Even if you’re not a Tolkien fan, there is sound advice here about writing, the importance of sharing your work and getting feedback. There is also great insight into the art of giving good, constructive criticism on others’ work. The talk is entertaining too 🙂
Here is the written summary for the presentation:
“While Tolkien had friends who could devise ingenious ways to critique his work without sounding critical, he had others whose remarks were merciless and direct — to the point that Tolkien simply stopped sharing new chapters as he wrote The Lord of the Rings…From Tolkien’s experience we will draw lessons about how to make critique generous instead of damaging, and actionable instead of personal.”
I’m not sure that I understand “actionable” in this context — making critique “actionable” suggests to me that it is written in such a way as to make the writer want to sue the critic, which in turn suggests that it is damaging rather than generous.
Hello Steve – so sorry, somehow I missed your comment! Thanks for coming by. Yes, I can see what you mean. I suppose what they mean by actionable is that the criticism is constructive, in such a way that one can see how to put it into practice and make positive changes to one’s writing, rather than feeling hopeless and wanting to either a) ignore the criticism altogether; or b) give up on one’s writing through loss of confidence. That would be my hunch, but I agree it’s an interesting choice of word! Thanks again for commenting.