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The Importance of Critiques

In this blog entry, I wanted to talk a little about the importance of getting critiques of your work. Don't make my mistake. Don't wait. Otherwise, you may end up like Joey Kent when he met Lawrence Wright. Ouch.

So what did I do wrong? Did I run across the middle of the field with my quarterback leading me right into the safety? No. Worse. I wrote more than 300,000 words of an epic fantasy over the course of several years before I started looking for someone other than friends to read the monstrosity. Ugh.

That abomination now sits in a dusty corner of my bedroom, where it will stay until I can stomach fixing it.

Critique groups can help you improve your writing. Really. You'd be amazed what you learn from your peers. But it takes the courage of taking your precious words and putting them out there. Point of view. Characterization. Rising conflict. On and on. All the things I didn't quite understand when I started my first novel.

I understand the fear of sharing your work. It's the same knot in your stomach associated with public speaking or a musical performance. You don't want to embarrass yourself. Afraid people will point and stare. Look at the goofball who thought he could write.

It's that first time that's the worst. The first chapters I wrote got torn to shreds when I attended those first few writers group meetings with the Florida Writers Association.

But my writing is stronger for the experience. And I met some wonderful writers who are now my friends. (Thanks to Dona Lee, Al, Pat, Andrew, Rick, Lara, Michael, Bob, Doc, Jill and all the others that have taken the time to listen to my strange tales at the Bradenton Group.) It takes time, but slowly your skills improve. You learn from others who teach you the tricks of the trade. And you learn from critiquing the writing of others. As writers, we all have our blind spots. You get so close to your own project that you can't see the proverbial forest for the trees.

This blog entry would not be complete if I also didn't take the opportunity to thank the wonderful folks at my online writers group. (A special shout out to Kylin, Elin, Louise, Sam, John, Annie, Yoni, Tony and Mac from the Outland Writer's Colony on Scribophile.)

If you can't find the time to attend a live writers group, then I highly recommend finding an online writing community or find a critique partner online. Here are the links to a couple different places.

There are many other online groups. I just pulled a couple.

So please join a critique group. Or find a critique partner. Don't be afraid to share your stuff. We all start someplace.

And keep writing.

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