Suck it up, arrogant author: even YOU can benefit from feedback!
For the next 19 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.
Day 10 writing prompt:
Have you participated in critique groups? If so, how did it work out for you? If not, why have you avoided them to this point?
I can’t help but think that every writer goes through a period of feeling like their work is perfect, as is. No editing, critiquing, or reviewing necessary. Just turn me loose on the readers and let them drink in my wit, insights, clever turn of phrase. Then we step back and allow pinpricks of reality to pierce our consciousness, and we realize that no matter how good a writer we are, chances are there are improvements to be made to our work.
My experience as an editor has taught me that just about every writer needs one. After his death, I did hear colleagues of Christopher Hitchens say he turned in publishing-ready copy nearly every time – but it’s a very rare writer who can do that. Even the best athletes improve with good coaching; likewise, even the best writers improve with good editing. Editing is not necessarily a matter of rewriting, rephrasing, or restating the author’s original words: it’s taking those words and making them even better than they already are.
To that end, a critique group can help a writer improve their own writing, IF that writer is willing to receive feedback from others in a group setting. I have yet to participate in a critique group, but that’s more due to the fact that I’ve not yet finished a work that required that kind of workshopping. As I mentioned before, my novel is still in process. (Download it here if you want to read it, up to its current unfinished point.) Once I do finish it, I wonder if my search for a critique group will mimic my search for an editor for my first book.
I’ll admit, I have some huge pet peeves and high expectations for anyone who might be giving me feedback on my writing. Some of that may be fair (if you use apostrophe’s to make plural’s, I’m just not inclined to listen to anything you have to say) – but even the least grammatically inclined may be able to offer a great deal of input into character arc and descriptive details. I also worry about one person monopolizing the group and about the group devolving into a social chat circle, as I’ve seen these things happen with other reading and writing groups that were not dedicated to critique. Sometimes I think I just need to get over myself!
Would love to hear from others about your preferences for face-to-face critique groups vs. online groups. What has been your experience? Which method do you prefer? How did you find a critique group that worked for you?
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!