This is not an ad for my private critique group. My private critique group costs 50 bucks a month and is limited to a very few number of members, working directly with me, who are dedicated to getting to the next level and publishing books that sell.
This post is about critique groups in general, and the benefits to be found therein.
There are a lot of good things to say about critique groups, and I have said a lot of them.
(Look at this blog post HERE as to why you should use one.)
But probably the main reason I enjoy using a critique group is this:
Yes, you can get your head bashed in by a bunch of troll people with ego issues when you join some online critique group. (Not mine, mind you, but it does happen in other groups.) We’ve all heard the stories.
But there’s something really fun that happens when you submit your work every week and get positive feedback.
And I’ll tell you about it after a quick commercial for our writing contest:
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Okay, where was I?
When you write a whole book, you might not know if a joke works in chapter 2 or if the plot twist in chapter 12 works or if the sad break up scene in chapter 25 works – you might not know anything you did worked until somebody reads the whole thing!
You might give it to them on Monday and they tell you on Tuesday they loved it – but more likely it’s months and months, maybe even a six weeks or six months or a year before you hear back from a reader who buys your book, IF you ever hear back – but either way that’s a long time to be writing something and not knowing if what you’re doing is good.
On the other hand, when you submit chapters to a critique group on a regular basis, usually weekly, each week you’re hearing from other people how good it is or how well it worked or they laugh at the right spot or they give you a note saying this was really good.
And that will fire you up.
I speak from experience.
When I write a book, I usually crank out more than one chapter a week – and end up with a bunch of partners reading it who are at different places in the story, but when they give their comments come to me it inspires me to make the next chapter even better.
Don’t deprive yourself of that!
They read it because they enjoy it and they say so. And getting that kind of positive reinforcement each chapter will fill you with a sense of purpose and worth that you probably have not previously known before.
How often does somebody tell you once a week or maybe more than once a week that you are doing an amazing job and they are loving what you’re doing?
I can tell you, if you write a whole book start to finish, it might be a year before you hear it – and you might not even here then. In fact, you might get a bunch of harsh comments telling you what you need to fix.
That is less fun but still necessary.
But getting the positive comments on a weekly basis will fuel you like you don’t realize. And you will want to make that person come back for more and write even better stuff to just knock their socks off.
That’s what I do.
That’s probably a large part of why The Navigators was such a hit.
Each week people were coming back and saying, “What happens next? What happens next???“
My other books have been similar. It really is a great feeling.
So whether you join my private critique group or one of the free ones online or whatever, make sure you avail yourself to that positive experience.
Here’s the thing.
Most of you are pretty good writers.
You contemplate what you’re doing and you do it with purpose and you’ve usually done some research, whether on the topic or about how to write, so you deliver a pretty good product.
Not all of you, but most. Some of you need a lot of work – but most of you write pretty good stories.
And a critique group – mine or a free online one – will help you get your stories to the next level.
And you are capable of achieving that next level, and the one beyond that.
Because as I often say, if Anne Rice and J. K. Rowling and Stephen King and Earnest Hemingway can learn all this stuff, so can you.