Every writer gets the notion — from college, from movies, from the Series of Tubes — that they should be in a critique group.
This notion is seven separate types of wrong.
It’s time for critique groups to go the way of the rotary phone — to make way for something better, faster and stronger.
Peoples of the interwebs: critique groups are obsolete
A critique group is useful for certain things:
(a) university professors who want students to break into groups and leave him alone for the next 45 minutes,
(b) writers who really, really like to read their work aloud,
(c) literary snobs who like to say silly pretentious things about the work of others, and
(d) happy writers who like to socialize with fellow writers and talk smack about the craft while drinking bourbon.
Sidenote: Yes, your particular critique group is wonderful, and you couldn’t live without it. No worries. I’m not driving to your house with the Anti-Critique Group Secret Police to disband it or anything. Also, your critique group’s amazing bylaws and secret handshakes mitigate all the typical disadvantages of plain old boring critique groups that are not nearly as awesome.
Reason No. 1: Critique groups take far too much time
During college, sure, you’ve got time to sit in a group, read chapters aloud and debate what Susie really meant by having the protagonist drink a bottle of ketchup in Chapter 2.
Once you graduate from college, get a job, get married, buy a house and have little pookies, THERE IS NO TIME for this type of nonsense. Do I have three hours to drive to somebody’s house, listen to chapters read aloud, then talk about what I remember of those words and drive home? No. I have ten flipping minutes to write silly blog posts.
People who write for monies, full time, do not gather around a table to read their text aloud while fellow writers and editors listen carefully and ponder the words. It does not happen.
Reason No. 2: Editing as a group is dangerous and slow
Anything written by a committee will stink up the joint, right? Writing is a solitary act.
Editing is, too. You write a thing, then you give it to an editor.
Typically, there are different levels of editing: at a newspaper, you ship your text to the city editor, who gives it the first whack and focuses on the big picture. Later, the draft goes to the copy desk for a different type of editing, more of a polish and proofing.
Also, editing is best done on a keyboard, or with a red pen. Not out loud in a social group, where peer pressure and weird dynamics can screw up a draft in two seconds flat.
Reason No. 3: Critique groups can’t handle most things we write today
Short stories and novels. That’s what critique groups are really built to handle.
And they do a bad job on novels. Why? Because reading a novel in tiny chunks every week will (a) take forever and (b) turn the focus onto pretty words rather than structure and story. You need to see the entire airplane before you can say, with authority, whether it’ll fly or not. Peeking at tiny pieces of it all year doesn’t work.
Traditional critique groups are bullocks when it comes to editing blog posts, speeches, opeds, screenplays, newspaper stories, magazine features, obituaries and haikus. That’s right, haikus. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THEM.
Reason No. 4: Because I say so
I could put some bullets beneath here, if you want to make it official. Here you go:
Let’s invent something new
Now, there is a place for some kind of thing that’s LIKE a critique group, except better, faster and stronger.
Everybody needs an editor. And the more important a thing is, the more you should hire a professional editor who actually does this stuff for a living. But for a whole bunch of things that we write — including silly blog posts — hiring a pro would be a waste of money and time.
So let’s invent a new Writing Monster that’s better, faster and stronger.
The Writing Monster should be flexible, able to handle the editing of any kind of writing, whether it’s a little blog post, a speech, a short story or a screenplay.
It should also expose people to new ideas and new ways of looking at writing, and inspire us to rip the pages out of stupid pretentious books.
And it should expose us to different types of writers and editors, not just fellow writers who have the same exact skills and writerly prejudices.
The Writer Monster Thing should use this thing we call the Series of Tubes and travel at the speed of light rather than the Speed of Steve’s Subaru as you carpool to Jane’s house for the critique group and hope that she didn’t make that bean salad again.
The Writing Monster should be strong and resilient, living in the cloud and forging connections with writers and editors anywhere, like the Borg’s hive mind collective.
BTW: Resistance is futile.
The Writing Monster will NOT die because Steve moved to Idaho or Jane discovered that she hates Tyler’s novel and, to be honest, his stinking guts.
Also, the Writing Monster will focus more on short, important things like concepts, pitches and structure. Things that take up less than a page. (Kristen the Lamb is onto something with her Concept Critique Group idea.)
The alternative is spending every week for the next year dissecting Steve’s 125,000-word epic about vampire elves with lightsabers riding dinosaurs and Jane’s memoir about growing up on a potato farm in Idaho.
63 thoughts on “Why critique groups MUST DIE”
Reblogged this on 10 Minutes Past Coffee and commented:
I have never understood the desire to belong to a critique group. I don’t want twenty people, I may or may not know well, telling me how my story is or is not working. It’s my story! I know what works; I know which characters are suppose to do what and when. Did Hemingway have a critique group? How about Jane Austen? Hell, for that matter, how many dozens of people gave Fifty Shades of Grey a once over before it sold a bazillion books (ha! that would have been interesting). Nope, not doing it! Here’s a critique… just write. All the time. And once you have it just the way YOU want it, pass it along to an editor and be done!
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I am pure evil, I say thank you to the cridics online but mostly it’s just to see what kind of feedback I get this time. I know I’m weird. Sometimes I get real lucky and someone likes it and I gain a friend. So, I guess that’s why I keep putting stuff up in the critique que. Easy way to start a conversation. (I’m a bit shy.)
Remember they don’t know any better so don’t get mad at them, give an your best critiques to people. They just need time to wake up and realize that they know the rules, but want to do it in their own style. Once hat happens nothing can faze them not even ignorant critique groups. 🙂
And, you know what I double check things with grammarly to fix the few mistakes I might miss. It gets super annoying when some derp comes along as says to put the comma in the wrong spot, that was just corrected. WTH?
I so agree. Can you imagine Anne Tyler in a critique group, lol. She’d probably tell everyone to go fuck themselves, ‘by and by’.
I tried a critique group but didn’t get anything out of it, and thought it was just me, not that I know everything, certainly don’t, but I didn’t really learn anything new, or feel encouraged, but can see the benefit for social interaction and think that’s why people go basically, also because it’s been suggested that’s the way to go in getting ahead, making contacts, etc etc. by famous authors advice on their sites. So I don’t know. Blogs are great for me at the moment, but I certainly recognize that I do need help that’s for sure, but don’t want to ‘molded’ or put in a ‘box.’ Just because you write the way you write right now, doesn’t mean that’s the way you will always be. I need room to be who I’m meant to be – with help!
Before I read this, I was still pro-critique groups (though I’d failed to find one since masters program around 2003) and now, I know why. Critique groups MUST DIE.
Though we never read our work aloud (weird), it was an incredibly slow and mostly social chattering event.
Viva La Revolucion!
Food for thought.
You are so right when it comes to Time.
We’re lucky. Every member of our small critique group brings something strong and unique to the table; 1 editor, 1 computer coder, 1 social media, 1 nurse, 1 police, 1 published author that knows the system. We are each other’s resource, but the process takes too much time.
I’m still not going to leave the group, but must work on shortening the time.
Reblogged this on The Soliloquy Suites and commented:
What do you think? Are critique groups really all that helpful for writers or more of a waste of time?
My critique group was great… until I finished my novel. 🙄
OMG, where was this article when I needed it?
When I was at UCLA for screenwriting, critique groups were part of the course. The response was generally good. We listened until people were done with the crits, then we were allowed to defend our work. But there was no emotion brought into play. No personal attacks on people as writers.
About a year ago, I had a script that I thought was done. I had written umpteen drafts, gotten two recommends, and a producer attached. My “manager” took three months to read it,… and hated it.
Looking back, I think he was spread too thin. He talked about scenes that weren’t in my script, debated plot points I didn’t have, and when I asked him about it, he insisted that he read it twice.
So I went online to a critique group. Help, please! Was it really as befuddled as he made it out to be?
I laid out my credits. One film, three options, and this script has two recommends. What did people think?
Holy crap, they were vicious. And it wasn’t just that they hated the script, they hated me. I had total strangers defending me, apologizing for the viciousness of the group, but when the moderator joined in the rip-me-to-shreds bandwagon, I left, never to return.
I’ve also been on the flip side, where I’ve critiqued people’s work, given them pages upon pages of notes, and they say thanks, but they like it the way it is.
Now, I get it. Everyone has their own vision. But it’s frustrating to try to help someone who’s admittedly a newbie and have them throw it back in your face. Sorry, but if you’re using Comic Sans to write a screenplay (true story), then you’re doing it wrong. And I’m going to tell you. If you don’t want to hear it, then don’t ask for notes. It’s a waste of my time and yours.
You only speak the truth.
I believe, deep in my soul, that the best possible editors are people who already do it for monies, full time.
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I love my crit group.
We meet face to face once a month here in Melbourne, Australia. Not everyone has to bring work for critiquing. Sometimes we brainstorm. Sometimes we bring in fantastic authors to deliver a workshop.
Being such a large group, we don’t crit everyone every month. But after a while you start to find others who share your passion and your genre, and you become crit buddies and email chapters back and forth.
Yes, writing is a solitary endeavour, but belonging to a larger group means we’re all in it together.
We set monthly goals to help us stay motivated, with chocolate rewards. Who’s started a novel, who’s finished one, who’s written up to 10,000 words, who’s written over 10,000? Who’s received a rejection? Who’s entered a competition? Who’s won a competition?
Chocolates all round.
When one of us sells to a publisher, as many have over the years, it’s party time!
I love my crit group.
Not a bad way to do it.
I’ve been in some awesome critique groups filled with quirk and joy, and I’ve been in some awful critique groups filled with death and suicidal thoughts. But after several years of pursuing them, I decided they simply take too much time. I’ve yet to find a critter centre where feedback is returned in a timely fashion — perhaps others have found it to be different, but it took a year in one group to get through three chapters of my novel.
I have a new system of sorts now. My first round of betas are asked nothing more than to read the novel straight through and give me their honest broad impressions within one week. After that, I’ll make whatever changes remain and start querying. Sometimes you can tell more from one round of queries and rejections (personalised or otherwise) than you can tell from three rounds of beta readers who still have yet to be published themselves. I’ve found that professional opinions even in the form of a rejections can help me figure out what’s wrong faster than writers in the same boat as me. It’s easier to be in the boat focused on bailing water — sometimes you need someone to come along on a ship and point to the leak.
I have used “critique groups” as a teaching tool in my classes. I don’t believe them, however, to be effective without a teacher and a specific set of learning objectives. Let me explain. Students would read a short piece (I agree about novels. No way should you consider a face-to-face critique group for that) article, short story, essay, whatever it is we are studying. The students, using a rubric, discuss the piece. What was done well and what could be improved. Then I add my critique.
This is done, not so much to help improve that particular piece of writing, although it might, but to help students learn some basic principles of good writing. They learn them by spotting them in the writing of others, whether done well or not. They learn them from my critiques. It is one thing to say, don’t overload your writing with adverbs in the abstract, and quite another to see it pointed out in a piece of writing.
The key word here, though, is STUDENT. Students are learning how to write. They may eventually publish what they write. And I see them do so. However, the point of this type of critique group is not to get a specific piece ready for publication, but to learn the basics of writing and using the writing assignments as examples of those basics.
For the professional writer or the person who has learned the basics already and are now trying to perfect their craft, I agree, they need to move out of the safety of the critique group and start submitting their work to pubications. They will learn a lot more from the rejection slips than from a critique group.
Really interesting article. For a moment I almost got all uppity, but I realised that @Wordwatchers isn’t a critiquing group, we’re a writer’s group that also does some critiquing.
So how does that work?
The Short Story:
We have a twice yearly short story competition, sometimes themed to match a national short story competition that one or more of us have our eye on, but quite often just as a chance to try something new (style, genre, etc). The stories are handed in anonymously, bound and given back out. They’re read and scored, a winner is announced and then all the stories are critiqued by all the other writers, we meet up the following month to discuss the stories. It’s generally light-hearted, sometimes painful, always useful.
Wordwatchers critiqued my current WIP when it got to 95K words, the group spotted all the things I hoped they wouldn’t. All the personal gripes that I made my characters say, the contrived “funny bits”, the pointless tangential sup-plots, and much much more. One or two comments you can ignore, but when eight or nine other writers tell you a scene or character doesn’t work, then you better listen! The critique of that first 95K had a huge impact on my final 45K, I was almost editing on the fly, thinking about what I now knew what was wrong with the first 2/3rds of the book. Again, I’m very grateful to my group for taking the time to do this.
Finally, the group is currently critiquing a novel by Abbie Todd (@abbietheauthor), her 3rd. She emailed it out last week and in June’s meeting we’ll hand over our critiques and discuss the major points of the novel, good and bad, warts and all. We call it “mauling by velvet claws”. Some will only have had time to skim through it and will only be able to make generalisms about what works and what doesn’t. I’m currently halfway through it’s 200+ pages and really enjoying it (it’s YA so not my natural comfort zone), but I’m being thorough with my critiquing because Abbie has and will be very thorough with whatever I put her way and she deserves an honest and hopefully useful critique.
I can’t imagine what a group that just critiques is like and I’m glad I’m not in one, but for me, one of the best things Wordwatchers does as a group is critiquing and subsequent support it offers when you discover your baby possibly should have been thrown out with the bath water.
John aka DaddyHoggy
I like it.
As an example of already-formed and functioning Writing Monsters, consider industry awards. The standard pattern for judging involves getting links to items to review, and then filling out a short online survey/questionnaire about what you’ve read. You both score on scales, and enter your thoughts in prose.
This method permits quick, joint review of material, and is designed for the Intertubes. And, in a sense, a critique group judges entries. The downside to the award-judging style is that it doesn’t bring people together for socializing and chit-chat (at least, not until the awards are presented).
While the idea of a critique group may need a rethink, there’s certainly nothing wrong with holding a literary salon in one’s home. That’s a delightful thing to do.
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You make me want to watch Dead Poets Society!
I think critique groups are great for people who really enjoy the whole thing. Like, for example, some people enjoy being on a condominium strata council! More power to them. Some of the critique groups, however, are awfully close to … um … group therapy. Same for some strata councils.
I’m a maverick by nature (not to sound like Sarah Palin) and have always felt that a critique group would probably end up getting me arrested, when I assaulted the pompous literary-type member who hated my favorite scene. I’ve found beta readers much more helpful (I have six at the moment and only one of them is another writer). They are, after all, the types of people who are going to end up buying and reading my books, so what they like or dislike is extremely worthwhile information.
A writer friend and I have recently started a group that sounds like your monster idea. We are all mystery writers, and once we have a ms that we feel is as polished as we can get it, several other members of the group read it and comment. But if their comments disagree with my beta readers, I go with the latter. As I said, they represent the folks who are going to buy the books.
Thanks for a great post!
A fab, witty post – and so true. Critique groups can be great up to a point, but one can quickly outgrow the stage of relying on them. Peer support is best, I think
I joined my university’s writing group and have since regretted it. I write YA fantasy stuff while they’re all hung up on the “literary” stuff (big surprise). I just don’t operate on the same wavelength as them and usually end up keeping quiet because my critiques were always harsher than their glorified cheerleading. Ugh. I think I’ll take my chances with the internet if I’m desperate for a critique.
My brain is exploding. You’re challenging everything I’ve been taught as a fiction writer. Not that I think the way I’ve been taught is the right way, but… brainwashing is powerful stuff. Let’s blow up the critique group and conquer the world! 🙂
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Great post as you bring up some valid points about critique groups. However, I feel fortunate in being in one that has been incredibly helpful. I’m lucky to have found a group of women who know how to write well. We support one another by reading each other’s work-in-progress before our meetings, which happen twice monthly. And yes, it’s a challenge to see the overall structure when you get bits at a time. But the critques I’ve received over the past two years have only my writing stronger and clearer. Like David J. Fuller said above, “opening up to a diversity of opinions in a disciplined critique group can really identify problems & weaknesses in a writer’s piece and in his/her writing as a whole.”
I agree with a lot of what Mark Andrew has to say. I have been in a local writing group for over 20 years.
We met monthly and have a workshop, often with a guest speaker, followed by optional crit groups. Many of us are published.
As to the comment on haiku not being fit for crit, we have a tanka group which meets at the same meeting.
Some members enjoy international standing, are widely published and have won many awards. One lady is regularly invited to lecture in Japan on tanka and haiku.
I think the value of a crit group depends on the quality of its members, and there have to be rules, eg a max of 2 pages can only be read at our sessions.
As we mainly write short stories this is not a problem. One person can not be allowed to dominate by reading interminably from their MS.
Love this post. I have always felt (from my scarring advanced poetry classes in college) that I shouldn’t take voice lessons from Bob Dylan, so why would take writing lessons from people who don’t know how to write? I have a professional editor, who is also an author (and has work that I respect) of several novels and his biggest one to date is coming out in September from the St. Martin’s press. It’s true, people throw rocks at things that shine, and I’ve only been lucky enough that I haven’t received any negative reviews of my book, which must be out there somewhere.
I’ve never taken part in a face to face crit group. I am a member of an online crit group with 6 members counting myself and it’s helped tremendously. Plus I have two crit partners and we exchange work via email (usually a chapter or two per week, but it just depends). The group and the one on ones have helped my writing so much. I can see though where it would be time consuming and not as useful if I was in a group that met in person and read aloud. That’s crazy, and no way could I do that.
Can’t wait to meet this Franken-tastic writing monster you’ve designed and couldn’t agree more. While I am a member of a writer’s association and go to monthly meetings for an hour or two (depending on length of lectures), I don’t slog for hours in a large writing group. My time is short as like probably many others here, I have another job and a family. Writing time is sadly in short bursts, and has to almost be scheduled in. I wish it were not so, but that’s how it has to be. Penciled in between life.
What’s worked for me thus far, is having a crit partner who is another thriller writer who’s a wicked-fast reader and quite productive. No massive cheerleading sessions, we email back and forth, but I can say both of us would love to hear about a new and better way to go about this. Finding a better way to get to the end result (a kick-ass manuscript) is what I’m after and that’s that.
I’m a member of an on-line group that sounds like one of your ‘writing monster’ things they have been incredibly helpful with concepts, structure, pitches etc. Because we meet on a forum thread I can visit any old time even if I’ve only got a few moments and there’s nearly always someone to talk to because our members come from anywhere in the world (well mainly the UK and US). They have been invaluable to me with all sorts of help and advice. Although to my knowledge we’ve never discussed drinking ketchup!
Love the tongue-in-cheek tone. I guess it depends on the critique group and the quality of the writers in it. I know of one group many years ago, all aspiring writers who wanted to go pro, half of them became writers signed by the Big Six. A couple became quite famous, one of whom is considered the premier sci-fi writer in Canada. That’s the kind of critique group that really worked.
LOL, I LIVED for Steve Austin when I was a kid. Loved reliving that intro. Haven’t done a critique group in forever. Just prefer doing this on my own and getting feedback from a select few when I feel the need. I’m also happy to help out in return, always in a digital sense. Great and funny post. Thank you.
I agree about the group dynamics getting weird sometimes and hung up on the micro at the expense of the macro. And yes, having a good editor who will look at the whole draft and give pointed feedback/make cuts & move things around is more effective for long works, especially novels.
But — opening up to a diversity of opinions in a disciplined critique group can really identify problems & weaknesses in a writer’s piece and in his/her writing as a whole. I haven’t been in a writing group for years — but the years I was, I learned a lot and learned to be able to argue my point of view, take criticism gracefully (and judge whether it was useful or not), and how to write better.
One thing I am in total agreement with you on is the reading-out-loud practice. Does anyone do that? Our group abandoned it immediately. Everything was sent out by email, so people would have time to read & think about the feedback they were going to give.
Hahaha! I love this.
I have eaten Jane’s bean salad
A. I like ketchup, especially on asparagus.
B. I never ever ever have joined a critique group nor will I join a critique group.
C. I don’t discuss my work in progress with anyone except my dog who thinks I’m the greatest writer in the history of the world. Sometimes I talk to my parrot but I must be careful because she’s a blabber mouth.
D. When I feel my work is ready to be subbed, the wonderful J.W. Manus proofreads for me. If J.W. makes a suggestion, it is always worth considering.
E. Critique groups are self-defeating. There, I said it.
I love your reasons (a) and (d) – though, personally, I’d be happy to take part in (d) even without having a work-in-progress – but I have to agree about the issues with critique groups, especially these days.
I’ve never been a fan, myself. Too much posturing, and the reaction time is either too rushed for anyone to really digest, or so damned slow to make any impact on the work.
It’s hard to develop trust online, though. Everyone online is, by nature, anonymous. Or a persona. Though, maybe we should consider that an advantage. Maybe relative anonymity with an editor or reader is a better thing than getting in touch with the individuals in the mass, especially for those of us struggling to find our way.
Can’t disagree with you more. It’s vital to have someone else’s eyes on your manuscript before you send it out.
Yeah, you put in all the cavets and weasel words earlier and I agree critique groups are not the best for novels. But.
1. Critiquing other people’s work makes you a stronger writer. You get to see things to avoid, see how other people do things better than you do.
2. A good group provides encouragement and support. We aren’t all Nitschean supermen who are so self-confident and evolved that we don’t need other people.
3. A critique group critiques. They tell you where you suck. This sounds like the opposite of point #2, but it isn’t. That said, you have to learn when to listen to them and when to listen to yourself.
4. Everything is a waste of time, at least you get something out of critiques. My group meets every two weeks. No one reads aloud (stories are sent out one week, ideally, before we meet), even allowing for socializing, we get done in a couple of hours.
5. Internet is no substitute for face to face groups. I’ve tried both and unless you are constrained by location (some places there aren’t enough writers in your genre), in person meetings work better. Text doesn’t give context, no matter how many emoticons you shove in.
6. Groups evolve. Yes, Steve did move to Idaho (literally) but I took over and the group went on, got bigger, then smaller, then stabilized.
7. More people give more points of view. Ultimately, your critique groups can’t pay you for your work and yes, you do need to please an editor to get it sold.* However, you will get a wider spectrum of what your readers will or won’t like if you have a wide variety of people looking at your story. We have men, women, straights, bisexuals, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, Jews, Christians and atheists in our group. That gives us a pretty wide set of viewpoints but we’re all united by our love of reading, writing and a desire to help each other get published.
8. Finally, I could go on, but I’ll close with this reason most of all: Critique groups work for me.
*Indie authors aside, and critique groups are even more important for them.
Anyone who reads my silly blog and thinks I’m saying “Don’t have your stuff edited” is not really reading my blog.
Mark, I agree 100%.
I agree with Guy on some points, especially reading aloud to a group is pretty stupid (just read it or record yourself reading your story if you want to hear it out loud to see what workds)
While those who feel they are skilled enough to go at writing alone, they should by all means go for it. And those who can AFFORD a professional editor should absolutely use them. If they’re lucky enough to be able to take a course or class, great! And so on…
But I am an advocate for crit groups and feel that those who aren’t more than likely:
1. Had a bad experience (majority fit here)
2. Don’t recognize the value inherent within crit groups (you are reading, you are seeing what works and doesn’t, AND you are getting your work read hopefully by a variety of people = all goods things)
3. Don’t have a thick enough skin to handle the red lines.
4. Don’t have the chops to know what advice to listen to vs which to ignore, leading them down the wrong path with their story
5. Have some sort of anti-group mindset in general
6. Believe that “since the greats didn’t do it, then we shouldn’t either”
7. Like to come up with all sorts of excuses why stuff doesn’t work (often for click bait) vs focusing on why it could work
8. Think that if you can’t get something done right away, then its a waste of time (ie takes too much time to go through a crit group)
9. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop so I don’t blow up the comment section…
My group does not read aloud (again, stupid). We exchange work for a week (around 2000 words–which means there’s a lot of focus on line edits), submit the crits online, then come back to discuss the overarching themes to allow the brainstorming process to help us all out. For those who can’t do the math, that will take almost a year to get a 100k novel out.
HOWEVER, we allow our group members to request longer reads when they are ready. Speed achieved!
For example: if i have a MS finished, I can ask my group to read it over the next month, maybe two (and in the mean time, I continue reading their WIPs weekly). This feedback tends not to be less focused on line edits, but instead, focuses on plot, character dev, etc.
In general, committing to a writers group takes time, but I consider the time WELL SPENT as it has significantly improved my writing. I’ve written off and on for over 15 years, but never thought of trying to publish anything because I felt the quality of my writing was pathetic.
Now, I’m able to craft up a short story in less than a few days, with edits, and have the confidence that its 95% ready to be sent out after a basic line edit. All this came from LISTENING to comments raised from my critique peers.
My take: keep looking for a group that works for you vs proclaiming they are all dead.
Thank you for this. In the best cases, critique groups make good support groups. In the worst cases, they can destroy writers. Negativity isn’t the danger, it’s unwarranted approval and cheerleading. Self-imposed solitude and NOT indulging in the instant gratification of having one’s work in progress read can be painful and lonesome, but they can also be good for one’s craft.
As an indie, lacking contractual deadlines, I’m prone to let my ADD tendencies run free. Having buddies willing to crack the whip and look askance when I’m slacking on the page count is very helpful. I’ve found google docs and live chat a treasure. I can post a page or a scene, wail, “It’s not working!” then have an instant brainstorm session for a specific problem.
I have a variety of writing groups/activities I take part in, all for different reasons. I have an in-person crit group, which meets once a month for a daylong social/support/writing workshop sort of deal. It’s like having a writing retreat, more than a traditional crit group. No reading aloud.
Then I belong to an online group of 12 lovely writers where we trade full novel critiques and have regular online chats/bitch sessions/social support.
I also have several writers with whom I trade novel crits, done via email.
Then for poetry critique, I belong to an online threaded board that functions as an asynchronous workshop.
There have been a number of groups that I’ve tried and left over the years, as they didn’t work for me, or the group dynamic wasn’t right.
I think a writer needs to be clear on what he or she needs and use a variety of sources to obtain it.
You don’t like my ketchup scene??? 🙂
I agree about critique groups and avoid them like the plague. I am very lucky to be married to man the has a pretty good eye for typos and isn’t afraid to say, “I don’t get it…”
I have gotten some great suggestions on my blog. I also instantly know when I have had a “miss” instead of a “hit” by the comments or lack there of.
Thanks for sharing your view on this.
Word. I’ll let you borrow my shotgun.
Let’s do it.