Last week, I wrote a bit about critique groups — and after I blogged, a whole bunch of super-smart writers popped in to offer tips and leave comments about how their critique groups work. If you haven’t already read that post, you should go check it out before you continue reading here.
Now…does a critique group sound like something you’d like to try? If the answer is “no” or “mmm…not right now,” that’s totally fine, and you can skip the rest of this post or come back to it another time. But for those who do feel like this is something you’d like to do, I thought we’d use today’s post to start the process of setting up some groups. Here’s what I suggest…
If you’d like to start a critique group where you live, or an online group, leave a comment here with the following information:
- Your name
- Where you are in your writing life: (beginner, long-time poet, working on 1st novel, agented nonfiction writer, etc.)
- What you’re working on now or what you most want to write: (YA fantasy, MG mystery, picture book biographies, professional books, poetry, etc. Or you can say not sure – a little of everything.)
- Where you live if you’re hoping for an in-person group, or just “Online” if you think connected via email will work out better. Or share both if you’re open to either of those.
(Remember that in-person critique groups actually go someplace to meet and eat brownies and drink coffee once or twice a month, while online groups do all their critiquing and commenting via email or Google docs or something like that. Sometimes, they eat brownies while they do this, too. Just not in the same city.)
If you’re intrigued by all this, but you’re not the kind of person who likes to start things, then you can just hang out and see if anyone posts a request for critique partners in your city, or if anyone who shares your passion for memoir is looking to form a group. If you see a comment from someone you’d like to chat with about forming a group, then reply to it and figure out how you’d like to continue the conversation (email, Facebook, etc.) to work out details. Then I’d suggest you arrange to swap just a few pages of something for a sample critique, so that you can see how it works out and figure out if you’re compatible in this way. (You can read this piece I wrote for Stenhouse to get ideas on how to offer good feedback.)
Please don’t get stressed about this ,okay? If no one answers your request right way, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or that you smell like onions or anything else. Give it some time, and if this doesn’t work to connect you with someone like-minded, we’ll find another way.
Once you’re connected with a maybe-critique-buddy, try it out. See how it goes. And understand that this is not a perfect science. Critique groups have fits and starts, growing pains, and bumps in the road, so it may take a few tries before you connect with someone who is the right match. It’s worth it, though. You’ll get great feedback on your writing, you’ll learn a lot from critiquing your partners’ writing, and you’ll come away with some ideas that you can share in the classroom or library with kids who are trying to help one another improve their writing, too.
Ready to round up some critique partners? Fire away in the comments! Remember that the point is to find one another here and then trot off to email or Facebook or Google to talk amongst yourselves and decide how you want your group to work. There’s a good number of authors planning to visit for Q and A Wednesday this week, so if you end up with more questions about critique buddies, be sure to ask for their thoughts.