First and foremost let me say, I LOVE critique groups! There is no better way to improve as a writer/author than to get feedback from your writing peers/colleagues. I am the president (not as glamorous as it may seem) of a local writers group. In 2013 I approached 5 writers in the group to ask if they would like to form a critique group. (wow. I just used "group" a lot. *shudder*)
I was so happy when they said yes.
For over a year we brought our babies to the table once a month and they bled! Not in horrific and heartless ways that make you go home and sob while consuming a carton of Cookies N Cream. This was more like a leeching. Sounds way better, right? With care we pointed out what worked and what didn't work with one another's stories and (those of us who were baby writers) we began to grow. We lost 2 members early on. The following year we lost a third. It was down to 3 and we kept plugging along.
I'm not the most disciplined writer. While I was working on my historical novel all was well. Then I finished and started my next WIP. At chapter 6 I hit a roadblock. Or brainblock. Fear not, my critique group didn't give up on me. They critiqued short stories I began working on as well as a novella. They were there for me in my time of great struggle with words of encouragement. I love them for that.
And then it happened.
It is inevitable that a group will, eventually, fizzle out. Life intervenes where it once didn't and people stop submitting. In my case, I ended up chasing down critiques that I never received. It's not a big deal to anyone other than me, but it made me realize the state of the group. At least where I was concerned.
One person in a group of (now) 5 was critiquing my work. So if only 1 person is taking the time to read why do I need to be in the group? Surely we can be partners and nothing will really change. So I made the decision to walk away.
I'm sad that the baby I was so excited to see grow has, in a sense, grown out of me. But I'm not angry because I do understand that these things happen. Groups disband, members leave.
So what do you do when it's the end of an era?
You keep writing and you keep submitting your work to the partners who do critique your work. I have 2 writers, both dear women who get me, I look to for critique. They're not afraid to call me out on my shit when I half ass the work, and they're happy to tell me when I've done something right.
That's the important thing about critique; having partners who aren't afraid to tell it to you straight. Sometimes it's hard as hell to take. In October I was down in the mouth for a couple of days after critique, but not because my critique partners did anything wrong. It's because they were right. I rewrote the chapter and the next month my critique partner told me it was much stronger.
That's the thing about partners; they're there to help you grow.
I left my critique group, but I know I still need critique. I'm not a writer who's above receiving a little help from my friends. I'll never stop advocating critique groups, whether online or in person, to new writers. They are, in my opinion, fundamental to the growth of a writer.
While leaving the group is something I never thought I would do, I know it's the right step. For me.
**Reposted from Prompting365.com**