Many authors have devoted their lives to writing. I haven’t. Books have always been my default source to learn any new skill. For writing I’ve added other resources, such as, workshops, conferences, blogs, critique groups and conversations with other writers.
For me, a critique group offered an opportunity to gain objective feedback to improve my writing skills. Opinions on the value of such groups vary from one to ten on any scale you might construct. I’ve read of experiences, good and bad, by those who’ve ventured into such groups. Although I had a previous dismal experience, I decided to try again.
In 2014, I rejoined #Oregon Christian Writers. Among the benefits, was an opportunity to join an on-line critique group. The members meet and interact through e-mail exchanges. Writers in my group work with various styles and genres, but most share my interest in long fiction. Some are published and others will be. There are six reasons why I’ve found this group to be a comfortable fit for me.
- Members: The talented participants are generous with the time and the feedback offered on work submitted for critique. All are kind, tactful and encouraging. One member refers to our group as her team, an apt description.
- No Dress Code: I’m not required to change out of my pajamas. A hermit like existence would be the best description of my writing regimen. Oh, I do afford time for the joys, duties and necessities of life, but writing consumes an ample amount of my time. “Too much,” says she.
- No Schedule: Being rural, if I had to travel to a group meeting at a specific date and time, the requirement would discourage my participation. I’d miss a day of writing, a ride on my bicycle, mail delivery or some other important event. The e-mail exchanges allow me to critique submissions made by others when I have the time and inclination. I can also submit my own work when I’m ready. No need to wait for “the next scheduled meeting.”
- Substantive Feedback: The critiques are from experienced readers and writers. With backgrounds as artists, educators and editors, the criticism offered has been all that I had hoped; objective, informed, honest, insightful and detailed.
- Another Set of Eyes: As any writer knows, even though you read the same text over and over until your eyes are blurry, you miss things. Others can spot errors you’ve overlooked.
- Builds Confidence: I may be the only writer in the world who is niggled with self-doubts. I hunger for objective feedback, good and bad. As my friends critique my work, I learn the craft and improve my writing. I remember the time actress Sally Fields received an Oscar. She exclaimed, “You like me, you really like me.” Maybe I’m not the only one with self-doubt. Does she write?
Members of my critique group have been invaluable as I completed the manuscript for my next mystery novel #Deadly Consequences, which is now available in paperback and Kindle soon. #amazon.com/author/johnlawe.