Workshop as Spiritual Diagnostic Tool

Both my creative writing class and my public speaking class have a workshop flavor. Which means that the students have multiple opportunities to experience critique–from both sides.

Because all my students in these classes come at life from a faith perspective, I explored with them this week some ways that workshopping a piece can serve as a spiritual diagnostic tool–in addition to sharpening their work. Critique situations stir things up in our hearts–and some of those things are issues that need to be wrestled with before God.

Let me explain. Here are a few of the heart-arenas that critique tends to target, and the spiritually challenging questions that tag along with them.

Do I trust other people to speak into my life and work?

Do I believe I have a voice?
Or do I believe myself to be voiceless, invisible?

Do I believe I have to defend myself? Why?

Do I secretly (or not so secretly) believe myself
to be above critique?
Do I want to keep my mistakes hidden,
keep them from being discussed out in the open?

Do I fear that relationship is broken (at whatever level)
when critique is spoken?

Those are the issues and questions that my students and I took a look at this week. I’m hoping that we’ll let God use our days of critique to shape not only our writing/speaking, but our character as well.

What do you think? Do you have any arenas or questions to add to my list? What spiritually challenging questions does critique stir up in you?

PS Some of this approach to critique stemmed from a confluence of reading I did some time ago. Noel Heikkinen blogged about being “Aggressively Teachable” here–his list of traits that block teachability helped shape my list of character issues in critique. In the book A Syllable of Water: Twenty Writers of Faith Reflect on their Art, a chapter by Keith Miller looks at writer’s block as a spiritual diagnostic tool and also influenced my thinking.

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