Bell included a delightful adage in her book: “Writers like the sight of their handwriting like a man likes the smell of his own farts” (this is paraphrased, but I just love that idea!). I wonder if it’s the same thing with voice; when you read aloud, you get distracted by the sound of your own voice instead of really hearing what your words say. If so, it would certainly explain why when Andrew read my paper aloud for me, I was able to pick out awkward phrases much better than when I read it.
This was our most successful conference yet: partially because I actually got a chance to read and hear feedback on my work, and partially because my classmates and I are beginning to understand how to talk about our essays in a constructive way.
I find that the biggest obstacle with conferencing is giving the person meaningful advice without putting them on the defensive. Unless the writer has already developed a thick skin, often you have to phrase things in a way that doesn’t ruffle them. And when you don’t like something, sometimes it’s hard to find a tidbit to turn into meaningful praise without carefully planning what you want to say. Of course, almost every paper has something good about it, just at times it’s difficult to think on the spot of how to articulate what exactly makes it good.
Not to mention I’m bad at articulating in general, but that’s another issue entirely.