According to one of my favorite pirates, Jack Sparrow, “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.”
While this idea offers a limiting perspective on the capacity to increase one’s abilities, I find a noteworthy measure of truth in it. In order to facilitate self-improvement and accomplish tasks, an individual must have a conscious awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. What it is they can or cannot do. This awareness is not intended to be an admission of weakness or a self-defeatist attitude. Rather, possessing this knowledge can be a powerful tool to aid our personal growth and capabilities. Through this acknowledgement we open ourselves to the benefits of collaboration. I have personally experienced the benefits of open collaboration and witnessed them as a writing group leader.
As a writing group leader, I facilitate collaboration among writers and tutors within the context of the group. There are skills I can offer to augment the session, but my abilities are only part of the equation. Without the elements of the writer’s knowledge, or the skills of other tutors, the writing group experience would be significantly different. We offer our strengths to one another as a means of compensating for what we cannot accomplish individually. This leads to a collaborative learning experience that translates into improved writing pieces and skills. The tutors also benefit from these writing group experiences. Through the opportunity of interacting with one another in a collaborative setting, we discover new knowledge and competencies the group members possess that we typically do not experience in individual tutoring sessions. While we often discuss concepts together as a staff, I have not observed tutor-to-tutor learning occur as effectively as it does in a writing group. The exchange and absorption of new knowledge is accelerated for writers in the group as well. They learn from one another through an increased sense of self that results from the interaction with others while focusing on the completion of a specific task.
Participation in a writing group enables tutors and writers to enhance their awareness of what they can and cannot do, while compensating for the latter. For those that may hesitate to join a writing group, I say that our entire lives are based on collaboration. Like life itself, writing does not occur in isolation. It is a product of our beliefs, necessities, society, gender, sexuality, etc. The collaboration of a writing group is simply another influence that will assist you in writing accomplishments, regardless of what you can and cannot yet do.