FINDING A CRITIQUE GROUP: Four Tips for New Writers

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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!

2 thoughts on “FINDING A CRITIQUE GROUP: Four Tips for New Writers”

  1. I’m a long-time member of an online group (honored to be there with you!) but never found an in-person one that didn’t meet in the evenings, my sacred family time. I wonder how you would compare the experience.
    I always file all the critiques and do not begin to revise for, at least, a couple of weeks, so I can digest and discern. This is one advantage of having the full feedback in writing. But I imagine that breaking the isolation of writing is felt much more with an in-person group, and it’s important.

    1. That’s a great question, Mirka. I, too, like to put my critiqued manuscripts away for a couple of weeks before digging in again. Some in-person groups provide written feedback ahead of time, which is then discussed during the meeting. At others you simply bring the piece and read it and others respond at the meeting. My live group does a combination of both. One difference, though, is that in a “live” we can piggy-back off others thoughts and thus think a little more deeply about certain issues in the story. It’s also easier to ask questions for clarification etc. The biggest difference, though, is the social aspect. It’s fun and uplifting to gather and chat about writing over a cup of tea or coffee. I recommend having both, if you can.

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