On the Value of a Critique Group

You’ve heard it before. To be a better writer, you need to share your work with others IN THE FIELD i.e. a writing group. But so many people don’t. They try it, personalities clash, things fall apart. Yes, critique groups, like any other social situation, can be work – but oh so worth it. I was reminded of this fact this past weekend at the weekend-long SCBWI-MI Fall conference , and I returned with a whole new appreciation for my critique group.

Four of us, including myself, attended the conference together. They all had a critique with an editor and – as critiques often do – felt less than ecstatic about the feedback. We sat around and listened to the feedback, gave each other much needed ego boosts by pointing out the positive in the feedback, and then attacked the negative head-on. We knew each other’s characters and plots so well, we were able to point out ways to fix things, and we knew each other so well, we felt comfortable doing it and safe receiving it.

I couldn’t ask for a better group. There are six of us total. We’ve had members come and members go over the years, but for the most part, have been the same group for years. We are an eclectic bunch – writing poetry, picture books, middle-grade, and YA; romance, boy books, and fantasy; humorous, edgy, and dark – we run the gambit. We all have our strengths; we all have our hang-ups, our pitfalls, our overly used words, our crutches. Best of all? We all know it and aren’t afraid to point it out.

It is a safe environment where we can be ourselves, which is so important when you are a writer – the world doesn’t always get us but we get each other.

Our critique clique clicks – and I am such a better writer now than I was seven years ago when I found you all!

To those of you who do not have a critique group – get one! To those who do and it doesn’t work – find another one! For those who do one and it does work – you know what I am talking about.!And to those in my group – cheers! I love you guys!

Of course, none of it helps if you aren’t writing, so ……………. butt-in-chair mates!

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