I talk a lot about figuring out your personal critiquing goals. If you’re just starting out on your hunt for the right group, I recommend spending a little time thinking about who you are, what kind of a writer you are, and what you want a group to do for you. If you’re in a group that isn’t working quite as well as you want it to, the same kind of self-assessment can help you pinpoint what you’d like to change.
BUT…once you’re in a group, it isn’t all about you. It’s often about how that group works, as a unit. How everybody helps everybody else and, because of that, how strong the group gets.
So…for today’s Friday Five, here a few of the benefits and strengths of a good group.
1. Increased productivity. Groups are the best motivator I know for getting everybody writing and revising.
2. Brainstorming. Yes, you can share ideas back & forth with one other person, but there is a magic that happens when several people are tossing ideas back and forth, and that magic is exponential, not incremental.
3. Commitment. If one or two of you show up at every critique session, that’s okay. But unless everybody puts the group at the same level on their priority list, the group is not going to have the same power. Knowing that everybody thinks this critiquing thing is as important as you do–that’s the foundation for a strong core.
4. Education. The more you critique, the more you learn about the writing craft. The longer you critique with a solid group, the more that group becomes a repository of knowledge and skill. That every single members shares in.
5. Confidence. Yes, we all have to grow our own writing, we all have to push our own limits & find our own path. And, when you first start out with a critique group, the critique process can definitely burst a few of your bubbles. In the long run, though, knowing that you have a group you trust lets you take risks, cross lines, and know they will give you an honest reality check on everything you write. I truly believe my critique partners help me to go further and to find out–always a delight–that I CAN make something work. A strong group is a great help to the backbone, to our sense of ourselves as making progress and getting better.