Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to know if you're in the right critique group.

I’m not sure how it happened but last year, online, four writers found each other. We had a common need and came from a common place in our writing.

When Jill, Wendy, Cindy and I agreed to be each other’s critique partners, I had reservations of course. But over the past year, I’ve discovered why I’m in the right group.

1. We set writing goals. Right now, we’ve agreed to critique each other’s books through the summer so each of us can have one ready to pitch by conference time.
2. We critique kindly yet with honesty. For my current WIP, one partner told me where I really needed to start it. Three chapters in. I remember not wanting to do that—I didn’t want to delete my work. But when later I heard the same exact advice from a judge, I knew that having a partner who remained honest with me to help me writer better was so important.
3. We support each other through more than our writing. Stuff happens. And when that stuff happens, our writing suffers. When our personal problems interfere with our work, it’s nice to know that a kind word or a prayer will help get us back on course.
4. We encourage each other to not give up. During the recent Genesis contest, we were able to bolster each other to work through the good and bad feedback and remind ourselves to do better.
5. We applaud each other’s accomplishments. Jealousy doesn’t have a foothold in our group. Recently, one of our members placed in a contest. I felt as though it was me.

Are you in a critique group? Do you know if it’s the best match for you? If you’ve got doubts, I encourage you to share them with each other. Share what you’re looking for and if your needs aren’t being met. You might be surprised how quickly that can change.

All of us want to see our work published. I’ve done it both ways, alone and with a group. Let me put it this way: I don’t want to be a Lone Ranger again.

39 comments:

KelliGirl said...

Terri,
I am so happy to catch up here and read your thoughts.

You've had an extremely busy and emotional writing month! I pray you see your novel published...soon. I believe in you.

Your words about critique groups are right on. I'm in one that meets in person twice monthly and the advice I've received from them and the camaraderie we share has been invaluable in my writing journey. Yes, it's always hard to hear someone treat our baby as anything but a perfect creation, but if we want to get published it's imperative!

Blessings and prayers,
Kelli

Journaling Woman said...

This is a great post, lots of information. thanks -Teresa

Andrea said...

What a blessings when GOD brings the right group together.

Yolanda said...

Similiar to a Mentor or Accountability Group....when I allow it to be God ordained, it is amazing, just like He is.

You so encurage me, dear one, thank YOU!

Lovingly,
Yolanda

Lin Floyd said...

friendship is really the basis and trust.

Jessica Nelson said...

I'm in a crit group and I really love the members. Some are more active than others, but I feel like all my critters are really nice, caring people. They're also knowledgeable about craft and honest, which I appreciate. :-)
Good post and good points! I'm glad you all found each other!

Heckety said...

I'm glad for you and I think its rare enough to have a group where egos or jealosy have no place. I hope they are all really suppostive of you right now when you are at sixes and sevens with yourself over your writing?

Keli Gwyn said...

I'm glad you're part of such a great critique group. What a blessing that is.

Catherine West said...

You are fortunate to have found such a group. I did have a good group a while ago, but it slowly petered out to just one person and myself. I've tried a couple of other mixes since then, but nothing worked out. So basically it's just my current crit buddy and me, no timetable. I wouldn't mind getting in with a few more people again, just for the different opinions, but so far haven't found anything.

Warren Baldwin said...

You make a good case for a critique group. I'm not in one. For Roaring Lions I gave finished, pre-published copies to people to read and critique. Got some very helpful suggestions. Good post.

Julie Jarnagin said...

I'm in desperate need of a great critique group. I had a wonderful critique partner, but when I took a break from writing, she joined another group. Now, I'm searching. I think God will lead me to the right one.

Linda said...

What a blessing for you to have found the right people to work with. We all need accountability and encouragement to help us keep our eyes on our goals.

Diane said...

I'm not in a crit group. Not brave enough yet. Thanks for the encouragement and I am so glad they are there for you in non-writer ways too. Hugs :O)

Jill Kemerer said...

Terri, I feel the exact same way. I am also very grateful we share a common faith in the Lord. I trust each of you and know you're giving me advice from your heart. What a blessing you are!

Jeanette Levellie said...

I pray I'd find the right one, soon. I need a critique group like yours.

Analisa said...

I think what you and your friends are doing is great. Iron sharpens Iron:).

I am not in a group because I would need one for the occasional writer. LOL

Amy Tate said...

I'm so glad you found each other! I agree - critique groups are wonderful. I don't want to go it alone either.

Sally said...

I hesitate to join a group for a myriad of reasons (or so I tell myself) but I think it boils down to opening up my writing for critique. It's a childish excuse so I ignore it.

Karen Lange said...

Great stuff! :) Not currently in a critique group but have several writing friends I can go to for feedback and support.

Cindy said...

Terri, that post makes me smile. You've summed it up so well and I feel blessed beyond measure to be part of our group.

Nancy said...

A critique group would be very nice right now. It would help me a lot, I think. Very helpful post.

Greg C said...

Just call me Tonto. I got your back.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I'm not in a critique group, but have a couple of friends, who provide support and advice.

Blessings,
Susan :)

sarah said...

this is so timely for me. Our critique group met for the first time last night. Our styles of writing are different but we bonded together so quickly...and it's at my home...something I never would have done even a year ago...

Lynn said...

I've been praying for a critique group for a few months now. I've let a few writer friends know but still haven't found one yet. Maybe the timing is off?? Your advise of voicing your needs is so important.

I also have something for you over at my place!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I think that's great! I can totally see you ladies working well together.

I'm in a good crit group that fits well for me, too. writing can be so lonely. It's nice to have good support.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Terri, I love your comment that it feels like a victory for one crit partner is a victory for all. That's exactly how I feel about my crit partners.

Heather Sunseri said...

What an awesome group you're in! Good for you guys, and I love that list!

LeeAnn said...

I found that when our critique group established some group goals, it added new energy. We decided to go on a field trip to a local museum, to attend one workshop or conference together, and to start planning to host a Writer's Retreat. We tell each other our writing goals, too, and whenever someone gets published or reaches some significant milestone, they drop a few coins in this wild gold lame purse one of us found. We're saving up for a party to celebrate everyone's accomplishments.

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Edie said...

It sounds like a great group Terri. I was just catching up on some of your posts and I'm really impressed by how much you learn and how willing you are to step out and take a risk.

I hope things are going well. I'm going to send you an email.

Keeping you in prayer.

BECKY said...

Hi Terri. I don't really have any advice for you. I just wanted to say that I kind of stumbled into a critique group and I just love it. Everyone there is supportive of each other and there's no "mean" critiqueing or comments, etc. We meet once a week, and boy, I really need it, love it, and feel so pumped up afterwords....it's like going to a sales meeting and going out into the world to Sell, Sell, Sell! I hope you find the right one for you!!

Linda Glaz said...

If your partners constantly tell you how wonderful you are, you're in the wrong group. If they smack you over the literary head with a two by four (in love) every now and then, you're probably in the right group.

Sassy Granny ... said...

My critique group consists mostly of family & friends. Trouble is, their critiques are largely unsolicited, and have absolutely nothing to do with writing. :)

Sigh ...

Kathleen

Julie Musil said...

I love the way you summed up your critique group. They sound amazing.

I'm in a supportive, talented group too. They are honest, which is great. It usually takes me a couple of days before I see the wisdom of their words. But eventually, I see it.

Lily Robinson said...

When life allows me to get back to my WIP, I hope to be able to find a local group. I would love some face-to-face feedback.

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