Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ask the Authors: Tuesday

Do you belong to a writing group — one that meets regularly so members can read and comment on one another’s work? Are these valuable?

No, I do not meet with a writers' group that reads and comments on one another's work. I tried a critique group once (about the time I was working on my tenth book). I learned that is not how I work best. About 90% of my books have been written without anyone reading a part or all of the manuscript before my editor saw it. The important thing is to learn how you work best. It is a process. You try new things to see if they work for you. We all are different. We all create in unique ways. Find what works best for you. -- Robin Lee Hatcher

No, I don't belong to a critique group. I think they are valuable to some people. But I've heard mixed reviews on that. I belonged to a critique group a long time ago, and while I'm not sure how much it actually helped me with my technique, it gave me impetus, and as any professional writer knows, we'd almost give up our firstborn for some impetus! lisa samson

No, I don't belong to a critique group and never have. I know that some people find them valuable, but I've also seen how they can perpetuate false ideas and cause people to endlessly second-guess themselves. Or maybe I just like to keep my work under wraps until I'm ready to unveil it. I do value reader input, but I prefer it in small doses. --Angela Hunt

I’ve been part of writers groups in the past, but most of the members wrote non-fiction articles, so I didn’t find it as helpful. My most helpful “writing group” is my critique partner (also a novelist) along with several readers who give feedback on each book. But I DO think writing groups can be valuable, as long as you realize that there will be differing opinions and only you (and your editor) can ultimately decide what is best for the story of your heart. –Deborah Raney

My writing group consists of: my wife. I trust her. She's great, has a good eye, and lots of influence. - James Scott Bell

No. I did belong to a group many years ago, and really enjoyed the camaraderie, but the group meets on Saturdays and weekends are reserved for my family. I think a group does provides encouragement and support to new writers. Lori Copeland

Yes, I do belong to a writering group, one that
includes several published authors and several
will-be-published authors. I love the fellowship and
I'm in the group because it's a chance to spend time
with some wonderful people. Oddly, though, while I
critique the writing of others, I don't submit
anything of my own to be critiqued. I never talk in
specifics about what I'm working on, not even with my
husband (who grumbles about that). Call it my own
personal taboo. Not that I don't need the input of
others, because I do, but that comes later when my
editor and other hired readers go over the work before
it's published. My own strange quirks aside, I know
many writers benefit greatly from critique groups such
as ours. --Ann Tatlock

No, never have. -BJ Hoff

No, but only because I've never been able to find a group where they just let me be a writer. Too often I end up being the "editor in residence." While that's fine when I'm expecting to serve that role, sometimes I just want to be a writer. Since that hasn't been possible, I've chosen to stay out of writers' and critique groups. I do thing they're worthwhile, though, for most writers. And I have a group of women who write and love writing that meets once a week for coffee. We're not a critique group, but it's great for fellowship and accountability. And they do read things once in awhile when I ask them to do so and give me feedback. But we're mostly about just being friends (and playing "Boggle," a great game for those who love words!) --Karen Ball

I belonged to two groups, neither of which did regular exchange of manuscripts for critiquing. I love these people, and enjoy their company, but I no longer attend these meetings regularly. There comes a time when you just have to write the book and stop talking about it.
Now, Mel and I do have brainstorm sessions with other writers once or twice a year in different areas of the country. These are meetings we can't live without, not only because we love the input with our writing, but because these people are also published authors who know the business and with whom we can confide. --Hannah Alexander


At 2:51 PM, Blogger Jessica Ferguson said...

Wow! Just listen to you successful girls and guys. I have to wonder why we're all pushing crit groups and why I have two of them. :)

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thank you for sharing. My best crit "group" is my wife, with valuable and insightful input from my agent.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Kelli Standish said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Kelli Standish said...

Charis Team,
Thank you for your insights on this.

While I know there are exceptions, most of my writing friends have had really disappointing, unhealthy experiences with regular crit groups. It seems that it's tough to find a group that's both safe and savvy.

Sometimes I think we're better off just getting together with a couple smart, eagle-eyed writing friends, establishing some clear goals, and having that be our "crit group"

I suspect that once you've stepped into the regularly-published realm, you have a new team that serves this function: Your agent, publishing house editor, freelance editor (if you choose to hire one prior to submitting your work), and your trusted writing peers.

So I think we all probably belong to one form of a critique group or another. Our groups just take different forms and use different methods :)


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