Writing, as anyone who writes will tell you, is a solitary occupation (I find myself having a difficult time resisting making a ‘people who live in your mind’ joke here, so I’ll just confess that and keep going). Like any sub culture, we seek one another out, but I think writers may take it a step further than some others. We need interraction with people who understand us, or, I should say, I need interraction with people who understand me.
I surround myself with writers/editors/publishers online. I follow them on Twitter, I’m friends with them on Facebook, I read their blogs, I email them. They are my friends. I go to conventions to visit them and make new friends, and once a week, once a week I meet with my critique group.
Each Wednesday we meet to critique each other’s work and, possibly more important, to talk. I need that.
My critique group has evolved a bit over the years, but currently there are four of us. Myself, BD, Cindy and Lauren. We don’t all write the same genres, we don’t all like the same things, but we respect one another and we understand one another.
It’s fantastic to have them read my stuff and offer intelligent and informed opinions on it. They have dramatically affected my work. Stories have become vastly better because of suggestions or feedback they’ve given me. As a couple quick examples:
- Lost and Found became twice as long as it originally was
- Deadmonton became 1/3 as long as it originally was
- The entire ending of Shadows was changed. For the better.
- My zombie munchkin piece “…Oh My!” gained a character and got much tighter
Those are only a few examples. Unfortunately I can’t give anymore specific ones because mostly they critique my longer work, most of which hasn’t been published yet. Yet. The point is their feedback is invaluable. It has helped me become a stronger writer far faster than I ever could without them.
However, they are more than that. They are my friends. I can vent to them, share pain, bounce ideas. They understand the writing process, they get it because they’re right there with me. They help keep me motivated to write, to have something every week for them to critique. They are awesome.
If you write, do you have a critique group? If not, do you want one? My life wouldn’t be the same without mine.
P.S. I’ll be writing and sending out my newsletter later today 🙂