15 Years of Critiques

15 Years of Critiques

After 15 years and some change, our local writers critique group will cease to meet in 2021.  Several members have moved away, and with the pandemic restrictions it has become more and more difficult to come together. The good news is we hope to keep the WordsmithSix blog going. 

We also promised to make every effort to exchange work online. But it will never be as effective as a face-to-face meetings. I’m very sad.

It’s hard to believe the years that flew by and how much those people mean to me. Thursday evenings was the day and my day-job office was the place. As 2021 keeps moving onward, I’m thinking about these writers and how they influenced my writing and why. What are the best reasons to belong to a critique group?

  1. Accountability. There’s something to be said for sitting your butt in that chair and typing the words because you know there’s a group of people who will be reading it. The other option is you have to look them in the eye and say, “I didn’t bring anything to read this week, but here’s some chips and dip.”  

Everyone is just as busy as you are, even bestselling authors. But they have a strong work ethic and the self-discipline to make their writing a priority despite everything else in life. Writing is a job; the hardest work you’ll ever do. It’s important. Treat it as such. Say yes to every opportunity.

  1. Honesty. We did not go easy on each other. “I Like it. This is good,” is always pleasant for your ego but they are empty words. You can’t improve a story from words like that. Sure, we included positive comments and mentioned the good stuff, but we did not hold back on the bad. The more specific you can be with your critique partners, the better. “I don’t like that character.” “Why would that character say that?” “Does this move the plot?” “What is this character’s story arc?” “More imagery here.” “This is a rabbit trail and has nothing to do with your theme.” “What is your theme?” …and so on. Be specific.

Because of my critique partners, I now give tough critiques and I usually step on toes. But the people who I exchange work with knows that I will be brutally honest. And in the end, it’s not anybody else’s story anyway. It’s yours and you make the final decision. So take that chip off your shoulder and just listen. Consider the possibilities. 

  1. Like-minds. It has been so important for me to absorb the creative energy from like minds. Only other writers know our struggles. Only other writers understand the tug we feel from a universe that tries to distract us from the stories inside our heads. All we want is time; time to write. You can gain a lot of inspiration from like-minded people.

At our meetings we made every effort to begin on time, read and critique, and then those who had to leave, could. Those who needed to vent could stay and visit. 

Hats off to my WordsmithSix critique partners. Happy New Year to our WordsmithSix subscribers and thanks for following us! I hope you realize all your writerly dreams in 2021 and that you have many, many pages of words that find readers.