I mention my critique group with some frequency. But I cannot say enough good things about them. Or about the benefits of a critique group. No matter what stage of writing – whether a newbie or a seasoned professional. My critique group is made up of all stages and places. And I love that. So, what can a writing group do to benefit me? I’ll spill the beans here…
Provide Instant Feedback. This is one of the most basic and obvious reasons anyone joins a critique group. I encourage everyone to be bold enough to share their work. That’s the only way to improve. Let the group see it and give feedback. The more eyes, the more they can catch. This is not because the writing is bad, it’s because there are only so many things the writer can catch. We tend to be too close to the work. This is, however, where I advise everyone to be choosy about their critique group. No one wants a group that is vicious or tears others down. If that’s the vibe, don’t go back; but try another group.
Broaden Your Horizons. By this I mean that we can learn more about our craft from others that are further along in their careers. I can benefit from others who have editors that have taught them different things. What can I glean from someone who attended a conference workshop that I didn’t have access to? These are all things to think about.
Teach. There may even be an opportunity to teach others. This not only brings on the warm fuzzies, but it solidifies your knowledge of craft and gives anyone a confidence boost. As we learn and grow in our craft, we should turn around and teach others.
Connect. Those in the group that are published and going to conferences can connect newbies in the group with people in the industry they have met. This can be extremely valuable. During my time in my critique group, I have come to see the necessity of going to conferences and workshops and even taking online courses. All of these things have grown me in my craft. But I never would have known where to find these things had it not been for my critique group’s fearless leader. She connected me with the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and I joined a local chapter and take online courses through this organization.
Accountability & Support. That regular check-in keeps everyone accountable to continue working, so we have something to share if nothing else. But the groups’ support and encouragement helps everyone strive to complete projects and move further along in their career.
These are just a few of the benefits. As I said, I could go on and on (but I won’t). The next question you are bound to ask is “how do I find a critique group?”. I would look locally through your local publications, or check with the public library. Utilizing your computer to search for local groups can also prove fruitful. If there isn’t anything promising locally, try to find an online critique partner, or critique group. I would look for these through a search as well. The important thing for me is that I am in a group led by or at least regularly attended by a published author. Anything to add? How have you benefitted from a critique group?