Creative Writing Critique Group:
Is One Right for You?

What is a creative writing critique group,
and how can joining one benefit you?

A creative writing critique group can be a good idea. No writer wishing any level of success can get far without submitting their work to the scrutiny of other writers. Yes, there are exceptions. Those in that exalted tribe, read no further.

For you others, allow me to interrupt your delicious isolation to perhaps remove some of the mistaken ideas that are keeping you from enjoying the benefits of a critique group.

Briefly put, a critique group exists for mutual review and evaluation of one another’s work in progress (WIP) so each member can get constructive comments on their work.

Excepting those who simply don’t have the time, most aspiring writers resist subjecting their work to critical review because of this truth: Writing is very personal. Consider how that affects these groups of writers:

  1. They see rejection of their writing as rejection of themselves as persons. If that were true, there’d be very few books. No one starts as a full-blown writer.

  2. They see the words “critical” and “criticism,” thinking they’re setting themselves up for public humiliation. To repeat, a critique group exists to get and give constructive comments.

  3. Others fear someone will steal their ideas. Only if you’re already a best-seller.

  4. A few writers doubt the ability of others to grasp the magnitude, intellectual depth or soaring grace of their writing, so they choose not to subject their precious work to examination by inferiors. Nothing I say here will change that opinion. Good luck.

  5. Others avoid any kind of peer review group because they know up front they won’t follow through. These are dabblers who want to be seen as writers without having truly written. They fear being exposed as frauds. They don’t want to begin at or near “the bottom,” with other beginners.

Being a writer requires discipline, hard work, learning what you “should already know” as well as what you haven’t the foggiest about. Rejection is the writer’s reality but it’s greatly decreased when you’re getting feedback from others “in the trenches.”

Those who join live or online critique groups do so because they are willing to do what it takes to be the best writers they can be. Review by editors, beta readers, writing partners, and critique groups—all are geared to smooth the road and point us the right direction.

Local creative writing critique groups can be found by doing an online search for one in your area, such as Willamette Writers Critique Groups. If you're comfortable with an online critique group, doing a search such as "online writing critique groups" will give you a number of good possibilities.

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