By Ronda Simmons (aka Ronda-no-h)
I have somehow lucked my way into an awesome critique group. It has improved my writing more than any class or conference I have ever attended. If you don’t have one, get one. Here are my top ten reasons why:
10. You get to be a part of the creative process with your critique group members.
Brainstorming is one of the most exciting, juicy things to do as a writer, whether it’s your work or someone else’s.
9. Your critique group will help you learn to handle rejection.
As Daniel Handler said, “Rejection to a writer is like water to a fish. It’s everywhere.” That doesn’t make rejection not suck, but your critique group will help you process it. When they share their rejections with you, you know you are not alone.
8. You have a built in cheering squad to celebrate your successes.
When you finally get that coveted “yes, please!” from an agent or editor there’s nothing better than sharing it with your critique group. Just as wonderful, you’ll get to celebrate their successes, too.
7. They will help you accept and embrace criticism.
To be a writer you need to develop a thick skin. A good critique group will, in the nicest way possible, point out where your writing flaws are. If you want to grow as a writer you need this.
6. You can do fun writing things together.
Last January three of us from my critique group entered the NYC Midnight short story contest. It was honestly one of the most fun writing things I did in 2016. Next year our entire group is going to sign up. Which leads us to …
5. They know things you don’t know.
One of my writing partners told me about that NYC Midnight contest which I otherwise would have missed. Maybe they will recommend a beautiful book, or maybe they will know how to craft the perfect query letter, or maybe they will know of a great writing class you need to take. Whatever they’ve got to tell you, listen.
4. Your critique group will get to know and love your characters as well, or better, than you do.
The characters you create become like your children. You love them and you love the people who love them.
3. You have people willing to go to writing conferences.
Writing conferences can be intimidating for newbies and for seasoned writers alike. Knowing that you’ve got a friend or three there can make the difference between finding a lame excuse not to go and actually showing up. And showing up is good.
2. They bring skills to the table that you don’t have.
One of the members of our critique group, Laura, is an amazing copy editor. She can find and kill dangling participles like a pro. Another, Joe, just reviewed this article and pointed out that I use the word “that” way too much. See? I did it again. It helps to know you’ve got someone in your corner who can make up for your limitations. And finally . . .
1. Your critique group will become your tribe.
Writing can be a lonely process but it doesn’t have to be. Your amazing writing family will keep you motivated when you want to give up, will keep you focused when you lose direction and will make the entire process richer and more fun.
If you’re already in a critique group, good for you. If you’re not, what are you waiting for?