Georgia NeSmith
2 min readAug 29, 2021


Sorry. I'm gonna stick a very sharp pin in your bubble of self confidence in your belief that no writer can improve if they haven't improved in a year, as if getting feedback and receiving decent instruction had nothing to do with it.

No, such a person is NOT doomed to failure as a writer based on your assumptions you appear to have regarding the only way to become good/

See, I'm an old lady. Specifically a 73 year old lady with about 30 years+ of having taught various forms of writing at the university level, and having done a significant amont of coaching and editing fpr academic and professional clients.

I am reminded of the young black male student I had in my advanced writing course at Rochester Institute of Technology who couldn't write his way out of a paper bag.

NOTE: I bring up race only because so many black and other students of color have had very poor instruction. His instruction RUINED his writing rather than helping him improve.

I saw the comments written on some of his earlier papers submitted in other classes--and I could see at once why he did so poorly.

SIMPLE: He was very poorly taught.

I had a practice of not grading assignments until after the writer had received feedback (following a set of questions I provided) from their peer writing groups around which the majoirty of class time was organized. And after I had provided my own feedback.

I told my students to forget pretty much everything they'd already been taught.

Out of the 6 pieces they submitted (a 10-week course), they would be graded on three revisions and one unrevised piece. They chose what to submit for a grade, with advice from their peers.

Funny thing. That student went from what would have been a D average (being generous) to B and B+ on the pieces he submitted for a grade.

It was obvious that he had seriously applied what he learned in the class to his writing practices.

Telling that story always brings tears to my eyes. Most important, not only did he acquire better skills in a very short period of time, he acquired more confidence in himself that could be applied in every course he took.

You see, while great writers are born, not taught, people CAN learn how to write well if given a chance and proper teaching.

Your grade from me here? RR--revise and resubmit.

BTW I have addressed only the central problem. When I work with students, that is where I start, because if I did EVERYTHING they would go home overwhelmed and thinking I was impossible to pleaseThey would give up straight away.

There are many more problems with this piece that would require many hours of explaining, specifically with sentence construction, excess verbiage, and other issues best left for 3rd and 4th drafts.



Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.