After singing the praises of critique groups, I think it’s only fair now to offer a few tips on how to find a good critique group. After all, finding a critique group can be daunting, especially for a new writer who has been spending most of her/his time writing in isolation. At least, that was my experience as a new writer.
Here then are four tips, I’ve found helpful:
- Look inward. First, decide what you want out of a critique group. Do you want an in-person group or an on-line group? Do you want a genre-specific group (i.e. picture books or poetry, YA or MG etc) or would you like a mix of genres? How much time are you willing to spend per week/month writing critiques? How often do you want to be responsible for submitting work? How big or small do you want the group to be?
- Network, network, network. Once you have a sense of what you want from a critique group, you can use your social networks (on-line and in person) to see if anyone you know is part of a group. If so, is that group open to new members? Another good strategy is to be pro-active at conferences to see if anyone is in a group that is interested in new members. The SCBWI blue boards also have a thread devoted to critique groups seeking new members so that’s another possible venue to tap. Finally, check your local library and book stores to see if they have groups that meet there.
- Do a little research. Once you’ve discovered some potential groups, do a little research. Do the groups have both new and seasoned writers? Have any members of the group be process? (In my experience, most of the better groups do.)
- Give it a try. Once you have done all of the above, it might be time to take the leap and give it a try! If you feel it is the right step for you, apply to the group that sounds best for you.
Thanks for checking out these tips! I hope you will find, as I have, that being part of a critique group makes all the difference in your growth as a writer. Happy writing, all!