One thing I found when I “came out” as a writer is that there are writers everywhere. It seems like everybody knows somebody who is either trying their hand at the craft or thinking about starting, and most seem ready to talk to other writers about it.
It can be so beneficial to get together with a couple of writer friends (either in-person, online, or even on the phone) and just talk about writing. Share some stories about acceptances and rejections, bounce some ideas around or even just encourage each other to keep working at it.
In a lot of ways I think that’s even more important than having a critique group.
I’m not really against having a critique group, but it’s something that doesn’t work for me for a variety of reasons. The biggest is that I just don’t have enough free time to dedicate to giving other writers honest feedback, and I don’t believe it’s fair for me to ask something from them when I’m unable to do the same. Online critique groups work much better for me for this reason alone, since I can critique on my schedule.
Another problem I have with in-person critique groups (and this one is totally on me) is that I’m not able to say “nothing personal.” When I read something from someone I know, I just can’t separate the writer from his or her work and feel like I’m criticizing the person and not the piece. Same thing on the receiving end. If I get criticism from a “stranger” on scribophile.com or in a rejection letter, I have no problem looking at the feedback objectively. If it comes from a friend, I immediately get defensive about it.
Like I said, this is totally one me.
Anyhow, back to the topic of writer friends, if you do have a critique group I wanted to share an idea I heard at a convention a couple of years ago. It’s a great idea and I wish I could remember exactly who to credit for it.
Basically, he said you should get your group together and pick out a pro-paying anthology that you can all submit to, and then get together once a week and critique each others’ work and see if anyone can get an acceptance.
Then if any stories did get picked, the group can discuss the process of revisions and talk about what made that story different from the rest.
I love the idea and it could be put to use whether you have a regular critique group or just have a bunch of writer friends and want to try something new. It’s a great way to learn from each other. And what we should all be doing; learning from one another and encouraging each other to keep writing.
Where do you meet other writers? Online? Coffee shops? Bookstores? Let us know in the comments section!