My critique group has been a huge, giant, gargantuan help to me. I am an advocate for being part of a critique gathering. However I recognize that not every writer will benefit the same way from regular peer critiquing, and the dynamic of the participants makes a big difference on its effectiveness. Consider these points when evaluating joining a group, or if you’re questioning whether your current peers are right for you.
- Writers in similar genres – Being an Adult horror writer in a YA fantasy group isn’t the right fit! Find those who write what you’re interested in.
- Likeability – While you don’t have to be BFFs with every member, make sure your personality doesn’t clash with your peers. If difficulties exist between you and another member, don’t stay silent. Work them out!
- Honesty – If your group always gushes over your work and provides nothing insightful to work on, it isn’t doing you any good.
- Commitment – If you meet once every five to six fortnights, you may with the wrong people. Make sure you are committed to each other.
- Vulnerability – This may be very hard for some. A stiff spine is required in order to hear the feedback that may not favor your writing. Even if you don’t take all advice given, and I’d recommend not to, consider all points and have an open mind. If someone doesn’t like something, there’s usually a reason.
I’ve had some published authors tell me that regular critique groups are a waste of time, while others have said they helped them reach success. Only you can know if a formal arrangement is right for you. In this day and age critiquing can be successful even if you are separated by distance. You can use tools such as Google chat (Hangout), Skype, Google Documents, email, and anything else that helps you collaborate.