How to get the most out of your critiquing group
So, you’re probably tired of me going on and on about critiquing groups, huh? Don’t worry, this will be my last one — for now, anyway! In my last two posts, I talked quite a bit about the pros and cons of critique groups, and also about their limitations. I’ve had bad experiences in the past that make me pretty apprehensive and bitter about them. However, they also have a unique kind of power that can really help you get ahead in professional writing. It’s all about pairing up with the right people for the right project. Here are some tips to help you do just that!
Tips for getting the most out of your critiquing group
- Pick the right group for your writing style: You can’t get helpful advice from the wrong group. When looking at your options for a critiquing group, try to “shop around” for one that focuses on your niche and also your writing style. It may take you a few failed attempts to find the right one, but it’s going to be worth the time to get it right!
- Start simple and expect little: For your first critique, you’ll want to dash your expectations and keep them reasonable. The members at your table — as amazing as they are — are not magical or superheroes (sorry, guys). They may not see everything as you intended and they may not know how to answer all of your questions (more on that in a sec). Don’t expect too much, and start off with a simple piece so that you can see how critiquing works.
- Have a list of questions prepared (and actually ask them): Most critiquing groups request the author stay quiet and let team members battle it out over your piece. However, have a list of questions ready related to your work and, after they’ve finished, ask them. They should focus on your biggest worrying points and otherwise help you get a sense of how your writing is coming across. This can be invaluable for editing and revising the piece!
- Don’t bring something you aren’t willing to workshop: Critiquing is painful at the best of times — it’s supposed to be! To make sure that you don’t get totally crushed, don’t bring something to the workshopping table that you aren’t prepared to see get torn apart. Some pieces just aren’t ready to be workshopped and that’s okay! A critique is for helping you find the faults and even suggesting how to fix them. If your WIP is still too much in the “P” part, it may be too early to put it on the table.
Critiquing can offer a lot of value
Despite what I’ve said before, critiquing can really offer a lot of value to a writer looking to better their piece, but it’s important to get the right piece of writing at the right stage, to the right people, for the right, constructive feedback. That’s a precarious balance and it, more often than now, will topple down into some kind of creative ruin!
Do you have any other tips to add for making your critiquing group work for you and your writing? Any horror stories to share? Consider dropping a comment!
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Kelterss is an experienced freelance content writer and a published author based in New Brunswick, Canada. She writes website content, blog posts, and product descriptions for customers worldwide. Kelterss specializes in writing about mental health, fitness, and dog behaviour. Freelancing since 2014, Kelterss has earned over 3,200 reviews and has a 4.9/5-star rating.
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