Why You Need a Critique Group

By Sheryl Greenblatt

Sheryl Greenblatt

Whether you are a seasoned writer or just dipping your toes into the craft, you are going to need a critique group. Even if you have a Greek Muse whispering creative brilliance into your ear as you write… they probably can’t spell either. Let’s take a look at seven reasons why everyone needs a critique group.

  1. Procrastination is an art form that many writers have perfected. Whether it be the dreaded writer’s block or just thinking that you’ll “start that novel next week”, some writers are really good at not getting their backsides in gear. A critique group creates an air of accountability. You will be responsible for a certain number of pages each week, and if you don’t come through, you will be drawn and quartered by your fellow critiquers.
  2. You cannot critique your own work. Let me repeat that in case you missed it. You cannot critique your own work. You are often too close to your story to notice whether the murder occurred on a Tuesday, the dragon had red scales or blue, or whether during a sex scene, your protagonist was wearing enough layers to be an Eskimo stuck in a strip poker game. Let someone else take a look, they will notice things that you could’ve missed.
  3. You cannot trust the opinion of anyone who relies on you for food, shelter or sex. The only question that a man likes to answer less than “Does this make me look fat?” is “Do you like my story?” You need a group of impartial writers who will tear you to shreds (in a nice way) and then build you back up.
  4. Critique groups prevent you from being a lonely hermit who only converses with cats… and inanimate objects. Writing is a lonely calling. Being part of a critique group will ensure that you shower and brush your teeth at least once a week.
  5. The habits that keep you from being invited to parties (correcting people’s grammar, pointing out spelling mistakes) will be respected and appreciated.
  6. When you are starting to doubt your skills as a writer, your critique group will prevent you from throwing your computer out a window and becoming a Walmart greeter… or they will get you an application. We all have moments where we feel like the only thing we should be writing is a suicide note. Your critique buddies will be there to tell you how much you’ve improved and remind you that life is worth living.
  7. If you show me yours, I will show you mine. If you are writing because you just want to write, then good for you. Writing is a wonderful cathartic tool. But, if you have any hopes of being published then you will have to put on your big boy pants and show your work to other people. A critique group provides a safe environment in which to do that. They will also make sure that your writing is in the best possible shape before presenting it to an agent.

So what are you waiting for?

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