Join a Critique Group

by Dax MacGregor
My brother recommended joining a critique group. It turned out to be the best writing tip I've ever received, not only did I finally receive quality feedback. I found friends who shared common goals.

After I finished several chapters of my novel, I wanted to get some feedback. I thought my work was good, but I knew I could improve it. So I circulated portions to a small group of friends, asking for feedback. They all raved, told me my stuff was fantastic, and begged for more.

Did I mention I have great friends?

Later, I’d find typos, sentences with missing words, and other obvious errors. No one even mentioned them! So, while my friends boosted my ego, they didn’t help me improve my work.

When I mentioned this phenomenon to my brother, he recommended joining a critique group.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Writers share their work with other writers, who review and critique it. Some critique groups meet face-to-face. Other groups share their work via the ‘net, but never meet.”

I immediately googled critique groups in Indianapolis, my hometown. Sure enough, one met on Saturday mornings at the downtown library. So I signed up to attend their next session.

At the meeting, I met a half-dozen experienced writers who were all way smarter than me. They openly welcomed me. I liked how they operated, especially the open and honest manner they offered and received criticism. After my first session, they offered to let me submit a piece for critique at the next session.

All week, I anxiously looked forward to our Saturday session. I was finally going to get some serious feedback!

My fellow writers provided their advice politely but didn’t pull any punches. When my turn in the barrel ended, I smiled and thanked everyone, wearing my best game face. But inside, I felt like a boxer, weak-kneed and tipsy, dazed by a flurry of blows, staggering back my corner at the bell, hoping no one could see how seriously I’d been injured.

The experience humbled me. It was what I needed – and much more. I learned my writing contained many common rookie mistakes and my writing skills were not nearly as polished as I had imagined.

Over the years, not only have I gotten great feedback, but I’ve found friends who share common interests and goals. People who care about me and are working to help me succeed. People to whom I’ve grown attached. I’m in their debt, which I’m trying to repay by assisting them to become better writers.

My brother gave me the best writing tip I’ve ever received. Thank you, Bill!

If you belong to a critique group, let us know about your experiences. If you like, provide a link to the group’s website.

Here’s a link to my team’s website: The Indianapolis Writers Meetup Group

Comments

10 Comments

  1. James Wilber

    And we miss you Tom. Hope things get better for you soon.

    Reply
  2. Stephan Loy

    And don’t forget that other Indy writers’ group, the Pen to Paper group (Google it). I belong to both organizations, and it’s a great help!

    Reply
  3. Linda Samaritoni

    Thanks for all the compliments! I’m so sorry you got injured that first day, even though you see the value in it. I miss your story and want to know what happens! Come back as soon as you can.

    I’ve started a new novel and presented the first three chapters last week. I was just as nervous as the first time I presented Storm Shelter. I think it’s great that you’ve started a blog. It’s something I want to learn about before I jump in.

    Reply
    • DaxMacgregor

      James, Steve and Linda,

      I can’t wait to return to our weekly sessions. I’ll be there as soon as things at home stabilize. At this point, it looks like that’s out at least a couple of weeks.

      Reply
  4. Michael Tate

    Sounds like it was a really great experience for you as well. I know that boxer feeling though from online crit groups. Man that sucks until you start to develop the skin we all need as writers.

    Reply
  5. Dax Macgregor

    Mike,

    I’ve never participated in an online critique group. How would you compare your face-to-face to your online experiences?

    Reply
    • Michael A Tate

      I’ve gotten better/harsher feedback online, but there is also something very useful about being able to talk directly with the person giving you the feedback. Both are very useful.

      Reply
      • Dax MacGregor

        I’ll have to try online. On some of my work, I’ve reworked the original based on my team’s feedback. I’d like to get the result evaluated, but I don’t want to recirculate it through the same team.

        Thanks for the update.

        Reply
  6. Kimberly Krey

    Your message… I would be lost without my wonderful critique group! I’d suggest it to any writer out there! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
    • Dax Macgregor

      Kimberly,

      Your comment got snagged by my spam filter. So it didn’t appear right away. That’s the first time that has happened. I’m sorry.

      My critique group meets every Saturday at 10:30am. I look forward to the session all week long. I can’t describe how the process has accelerated my learning and improved my writing.

      I’m glad you agree that everyone would benefit.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Reply

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