As writers, we often work in isolation, but there comes a point where outside feedback is needed. Not just feedback from friends and family, but honest, constructive critique of our work. I’m fortunate to belong to two critique groups that have been meeting pretty regularly for more than 10 years now. Dare I say almost 15 years? It might be almost that long. We’ve had people come and go over the years, and one group lost a founding member and dear friend to cancer a few years ago. We’ve changed meeting locations and days. We’ve all gone through personal ups and downs. But we’ve all been committed to our writing and to helping and supporting each other. When we first started, we were all unpublished, aspiring authors. Now we have a number of published authors among us and I’m sure there will be more to come.
For me there’s nothing more motivating than knowing I have a critique group deadline coming up to push myself to finish the next chapter. I can’t pull late nights like I used to, though. And there’s nothing more exciting than getting feedback on your writing, especially when people like it. Believe me, my groups aren’t shy about being honest. If they don’t like something, they tell you. Criticism doesn’t bother me too much because usually I know if something is good or if it needs more work. I value the opinions of my critique partners. If most of the group says a chapters needs work, then it probably does. We’ve also known each other long enough that we can joke about things. It’s funny that whenever I think we’re going to have a short meeting, we end up staying just as long because we find plenty to talk about, maybe it’s books or writing in general or something completely off topic.
I should note that the two groups are quite different. One is mixed genre, but all novels, and we’ve had mysteries, literary fiction, historical fiction, military mysteries–and me with my fantasy. It’s a wide variety and I enjoy reading things I normally wouldn’t pick up. The other group is primarily SF/fantasy, although we didn’t intend it to be. It’s also good to have comments from people who read and love the genre. Just watch out for the time travel discussions because they will make your head spin.
Bottom line: I wouldn’t have finished my first book without them, and they’ve already helped immensely with book 2. I’m even thinking about some significant changes (sigh) based on some recent feedback.
So what’s your process for getting feedback? Do you have a critique group or a critique partner?