Five Fabulous Reasons to Join a Critique Group

by Cynthia Ray

Last week, Liz Engstrom shared the joys and perils of writing classes, conferences and retreats.  Critique groups are another wonderful way to connect with other writers, to get feedback on writing and to share your own knowledge.  I’ve participated in several different critique groups, each with its own rules and ethics.  All of them helped me grow my writing to the next level, and were key to getting my writing published.  Here’s why:

The Five Fabulous Reasons to Join a Critique Group NOW:

  1. Move from Good to Great:  Critique groups are essential to moving a beginning writer from mediocre to exceptional.  If we are open to it, the mentoring, coaching and helpful critique polishes our craft.  Established authors also use critique groups to hone their story and work the wrinkles out.
  2. Connection:  Writers are a special tribe of which we are members. We get to hang out with people that are as weird as we are; folks who have the same passion and interests as we do. I’ve formed deep and lasting friendships with members of the writing groups I’ve been in.
  3. Motivation: Critique groups expect you to write, and members encourage each other to keep going and to keep producing.  Many groups offer prompts, prizes and awards.  One critique group gives candy and applause for rejections; after all, rejections are proof that you are working, writing and submitting.
  4. Generosity:  None of us would be where we are today without the help of others; those who extended a hand, coached, mentored and guided us along the way.  Participating in a group is one way to give back to the writing community, and help new writers find their way.  When we share our time and our expertise in this way, we receive more than we give.  It’s  a gift to be able to read and give feedback, and watch people grow.
  5. The Extras:  You encourage others when they need it, and they encourage you.  In addition, you will enjoy yourself.  You will have fun.  You will write more than you would have if you had not joined the group.

Ready to jump in?  You can find writers groups on meetup.com.  Try a couple before you decide which works best for you.  Conduct a simple internet search for writers groups in your area.  If all else fails, you can start your own.  When I moved to Vancouver, Washington, I couldn’t find a group nearby so I started GroupMuse via meetup.com.  GroupMuse has been meeting for over two years.  You are welcome to visit if you are in the Portland/Vancouver area.

Fellow blogger Elizabeth Engstrom gives tips on starting a critique group here.

Are you a member of a critique group?  Why do you keep going?

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4 thoughts on “Five Fabulous Reasons to Join a Critique Group

  1. I truly learned how to write in a writing group, and can’t speak highly enough about the value I have received over the years from my groups. But take care that every member of your group is supportive and truthful, and not cutting and mean, because that can do great damage. I will give a short talk on writing groups at the Wordcrafters conference later this month. http://www.wordcraftersineugene.org

  2. I also learned how to write in a group. (and in your class : ) I like the idea of “Supportive AND truthful”. The combination is what makes a true coach. You go to where the person is and meet them there and offer them what they can hear. Thanks Liz. That should be a good topic at the conference.

  3. I have to admit the main reason I stick with my writing groups is the encouragement. Writing can be a lonely business and having a supportive group that understands is so helpful.

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