Sorry for the infrequency of blog posts recently. My work schedule has been rather difficult.
If you’ve ever taken a university writing course, you’ve probably gone through a peer review process for a writing assignment. You know the drill: get into groups of 3 or 4, pass your papers around, and listen to people who can’t write a complete sentence speculate about the placement of commas. No substantive commentary. (Not that comma placement isn’t important.) That was often my experience before I got into upper-division English courses. That’s when I stopped viewing it as a chore and made it an integral part of my writing process. I finally had actual peers reviewing my writing. No matter what type of writing you are doing, having your peers review it is beneficial.
Peer review is more than just editing. Editing generally focuses on correcting a work to meet grammatical standards. I don’t want to downplay editing; it’s very important. When I say peer review, I mean your peers. If you are a university student majoring in biology, an English major may well be willing to help you with editing (and probably can be easily persuaded with cash or food), but a fellow biology major (or professor) should be consulted for review of your content and the specific rules of biology papers. In non-academic writing, a poet should seek other poets, a novelist other novelists, and so on.
I’m not suggesting that writers of different types of material cannot present good opinions that will help you, but there is a certain intrinsic value in what your peers can offer. I often write poetry, and though I frequently share my writing with prose writers (and non-writers), I get something else from poets. My fellow poets understand aspects of poetry differently, things that go beyond an academic understanding of the craft. They understand poetry from the inside, if you will. I have a few poet friends whom I can email and get detailed analysis, and I also participate in One Shot Wednesday to gain perspective from a wider poetry community.
Happy writing, friends. Cheers