I am a writer who appreciates a good critique group or partner. I was in a critique group for a few years before I was published, and have been in one all the years since I’ve been published—and most of those years in a group that meets every single week. My group goes through stages. Stage of productivity, members moving away, and our process of screening a replacement.
Every January we each buy a datebook or planner and use it as a tool for the coming year. We share our goals and hold each other accountable. My friend *lizzie starr has a couple of great blogs on goal planning and using a calendar if that interests you. E and
It’s serious business, this critique group thing. You don’t invite anyone who isn’t compatible. You have to respect the people who are going to offer comments on your work. For me it has nothing to do with published or unpublished; it has to do with work ethic, knowledge or willingness to learn, and enthusiasm. I especially love having a new person or a beginning writer in the group because of their energy.
And frankly another brain ain’t nothin’ to turn your nose up at. I love my other brains during the brainstorming process or when I’m stuck. Sure, I get the ideas on my own, I put the pieces together and make all the decisions, but I only have one brain and one life experience. Getting feedback from other writers who have different perspectives AND understand the process of story writing is invaluable to me.
I know some writers who don’t like anyone else meddling in their stories—some find it changes their story too much. I go into the process with elements I’ve chosen that I won’t budge on, so the possibility of taking my story a wrong direction isn’t a problem or a possibility. I’m flexible about everything else because new perspectives keep me fresh. If someone in my group makes a suggestion that isn’t considered, it’s not because it was a bad suggestion; it’s just because that idea didn’t work for that writer’s story. We all understand that. Nobody gets her nose out of joint.
Our noses are all in joint, thank you.
Last year my started a different critique as well. Once a month, one of the members, Teryl Oswald, hosts an evening critique session to which all chapter members are invited. The members break up into brainstorming and critiquing groups and spend the evening working on each other’s stories. I enjoy it because it’s a terrific way to work with a more diverse gathering, hear other people’s ideas and stories and get to know chapter members I otherwise wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to know. It’s a great place for beginners to find help and instruction.
I got my author copies of my April Mother’s Day anthology, To Be a Mother. My story is called Montana Rose, and it involves a school teacher, an orphan, and a stubborn rancher. Today I’m offering autographed copies to three readers whose names I’ll draw from the comments. Since I won’t be blogging here again before Valentine’s Day, this will be my Valentine offering.