What Every Writer Needs
Writers write. It's what we do. Unfortunately, we don’t always judge our own writing accurately even when its good.
Does that surprise you? We are used to being told that we need help identifying the weaknesses in our writing. Sometimes we need just as much help identifying the strengths.
For about two months, I’ve been playing around with a rewrite. I’ll work on it a bit and then set it aside because it hasn’t jelled. Every now and again, I figure out a problem and get some writing done, but after two months I have 10 pages. Ten. Can you say discouraged?
Fortunately, I had a critique group meeting last weekend. This was the perfect chance to trot out my problem manuscript. These writing friends would be able to point out a few more problems for me to fix, but they would also commiserate. Or so I thought.
That’s right. Refused.
They actually had the nerve to tell me that the voice was good. And they love the premise. They are even cool with the fact that my fantasy world is much like ours, but skewed just a bit. And my all new antagonist? They adore her, but in a bad way of course. Not that it was all good news; they pointed out plenty of places that need repair and I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the good news. Apparently, I’d done something right even though I was too frustrated to see it.
Every writer needs a critique group.
A critique group doesn’t just tell you what you’ve done wrong. They also point out what you’ve done right. They bring the perspective that you lack when you are too close to your work. And they keep you going through the hard work. I mean the actual writing part; my initial ideas have a tendency to be brilliant. It's getting it down on paper that proves frustrating.
I’d like to give you a nudge. If you don’t have a critique group, now is a good time to find one. I connected with the writers in my critique group at a variety of writers conferences and workshops. I’ve also been in groups that were strictly online. These worked well when I was a grad student and later when I was the mother of a toddler.
Finding a compatible group can take some work, but it is well worth the effort. Not only will you have a group of writers to help you fix your mistakes, they’ll point out what you did right. And that’s something you need in your writing life – fellow writers who will pat you on the back, hand you a good cup of coffee, and nudge you back toward your desk.
Speaking of which, I had better get going. I have a story to write.
Find out more about Sue's writing on her blog, One Writer's Journey.