How to Hone Your Writing with a Critique Group

By Gina Akao
7/12/13
Guest Post

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Are you looking for a sure-fire way to become a better writer? Join a critique group! Here is a brief list of benefits you will gain:

  • If your critique group meets regularly (such as every two weeks like mine), you will write more often, and more consistently
  • You will learn how to give and receive constructive criticism
  • You will have free access to excellent proofreaders
  • You will receive encouragement when you are down
  • You will avoid writer’s block and be able to express yourself in a safe environment
  • You will gain lifelong friends

Now, every critique group is different, and it is important to find a group that is a good fit for your personality and writing style. For example, if you are paired with a critique group that dishes out harsh words, but you prefer a warm-and-fuzzy, sandwich critique (praise intermixed by criticism and more praise), you may want to shop for a more compatible fit. Also, every so often it is good to mix up your readers. I recommend having one member who is a good editor, one member who is creative and poetic, one member who is business-like, and one member who knows you really well.

But like all good things, there is a flipside, so here are a few things to avoid:TalesofaLawSchoolDropoutBookCover

  • Groups that are overly argumentative (writers who defend their writing a little too much)
  • Groups that white wash your critique (“Oh, your writing is soooo wonderful!”)
  • Groups that are disrespectful (Try not to take it personally, but change groups if you need to)

Finally, when you get home after your critique group meeting, I recommend setting aside your writing for a while. Sometimes if you are too close to it, you can’t see which changes to make. I like to go by the rule that if three of my critique group members all recommend a change, I go ahead and make it. If only one member has a certain feeling about something I wrote, but I don’t agree, I follow my instincts and revise as I please. After all, the writer has the final say.

Good luck and happy writing!

Gina Akao

Gina Akao holds a MA in Educational Leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno, is the author of Tales of a Law School Dropout, owns a freelance writing and editing business, and has been a member of High Sierra Writers for seven years. She offers virtual assistance to authors who need WordPress blogs and helps authors build a platform through social media. If you enjoyed this post, please go to www.WritingandEditingToday.com to receive your free “Top Ten Career Tips.”

 

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