Thursday, March 26, 2009

Critique Groups...Keeping On Track

(There's a prize at the end of this post! Really...keep reading.)

It's a bit maddening to have multiple projects and obligations that make it quite easy to ignore the really hard revisions someone (that would be me) MUST be dedicating some time to. I have far too many--distractions that is.

Even though I have these many must-dos, they never stop me from getting to my critique group. I make attendance and sharing work a priority. The group is a huge motivator that keeps me moving forward with my writing.

But creating and/or finding a critique group is not easy. NOT AT ALL. In fact, it took me a year to find the one I'm in. Prior to that, I was part of two that fell apart and one online group that wasn't a good fit for me personally. I don't think my story is unique.

I want to know:

1. Are you in a critique group or wishing you were?
2. How did it come to be? (How did you join or create one?)
3. How do you make it successful?

I really want to know!

The prize at the end of this post?

Coffee! Seem appropriate? One lucky commenter will have coffee (or other beverage of choice, tea, soda, vodka...) with me! Yes, I know only a couple of you actually live in Port Townsend, but I'll make it work. I have my ways. Really. Just comment and you'll see!


Tony Dirksen said...

I'm actually in two, very different, critique groups. One has been running for about 14 years, with mostly adult writers (although us YA types are insidiously taking it over). The other is about two years old, and I formed it with Diane Merz, another SCBWI member.

The first group meets twice a month; the second group (the Smiling Daisies -- yes, that's right, I'm man enough to say I'm a Smiling Daisy) meets once a month. The Daisies tend to be a lot tougher than the first group. We're not always smiling.

But in both groups I gain the fellowship of other writers and the opportunity to read my work out loud -- somehow all the fumblings and failings are magnified when I'm reading to someone else.

The main thing I do to help the groups succeed is to virtually always bring along copy (even when I don't think it's particularly good), and give my proverbial 120% of involvement, reaction, support, and suggestions. Always gentle, but also always direct.

Thanks to Lois Brandt for putting me on the path to both groups.

PS. The Daisies have had a couple of recent retirements, and we'd love it if anybody would like to join us.

Tony Dirksen said...

Just realized my full name isn't included with my comment. Jolie you probably guessed it, but yes it's me "Tony Dirksen."

For anyone who wants more information about the Daisies, you can email me at

Martha Brockenbrough said...

I'm on my second group. I enjoyed the first, but the meeting time didn't work with my family schedule. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new group. They're some of my favorite people AND I respect their talents and insight. I was supposed to be with them tonight, but work interrupted. Oh, the humanity! (For the record: the Hannah Montana movie is lame but will be a huge hit.) I am truly looking forward to growing my career alongside such fine writers and artists.

Vacuum Queen said...

I went to a group a few times. I guess it wasn't what I was looking for. There was a very control freaky person who insisted we write upon a theme each week and bring it back for critique. I don't really mind that, but only as an exercise. I'd like to also write my OWN stuff and bring it in. That never happened. PLUS, I write kindof snarky sarcastic stuff based on each topic, and she was uber serious and made references to classic lit in everything she wrote. Not a good fit. I'm sure she thought I was dopey and was relieved to see me flee.
I do a wee bit of searching online for a group, but I have a bit of fear that it'd be like "miss lonely hearts writes...." or something other than a writing group. So instead I write aimlessly for nobody.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

hard thing is to stay with a group when all writers are at different stages.

i have one - we all met at a conference and just pulled it together - called The Calliope Circle.

if i win the coffee - we'll have to SKYPE :)

holly cupala said...

I'm writing up a response for Sara - can I still talk you into having coffee with me? ;)

Cuppa Jolie said...

Tony - I love that you are a Smiling Daisy and proud to say it! And, wow! The Daisies are looking. You'll have to let me know if any one joins you because of this post.

Martha - You are one very lucky girl!

Vacuum Queen - I'm sure the writing isn't for nobody. If anything it must be for you. I hope the perfect group finds you one day.

Shelli - Intriguing crit. group name. Any chance you'll be in LA for the SCBWI conference?

Holly - Yes, coffee anytime! Let's make a date. :)