Mar 28, 2009

The Gift of A Critique Group

By Christine Thackeray

I'm the Saturday blogger and I'm getting in with only a little more than an hour left in the day. Sunday has already written so I'm out of order, but I still wanted to say thank you for the gift of a great critique group.

This morning I left my family and drove to the next town over to a little house by the railroad tracks. In it were three other individuals. One is a smart-mouthed, cynical Midwestern who works at the casino. Another is a sweet office technician and newly married girl who has lived in Oregon all her life. The third is a message therapist who has turned her entire backyard into a garden so she can donate the produce to the local food bank. None of them are of my faith but they all share a love of writing. Our genres are as varied as our lives, but we spent six good hours reviewing each other's works, and if it wasn't for children, spouses and life pulling us back into the real world, we would have continued. I love this critique group.

On Thursday afternoons I go three blocks away to a little house with two preschoolers. The other cubleader comes along with one of her teenage daughters. Now and then we have another woman come and join us as well, and we plow through our writing, which includes a romance, youth lit and woman's fiction or non-fiction depending on the week. One of us is technically savvy, one is great at brightening up tone and sharpening descriptions and the other gets the big picture of things. Invariably, I learn something new each time I come to improve my craft.

Finally, this week as I struggled with my synopsis I put it on ANWA Critique. The suggestions helped me to seriously improve it. New eyes are such a gift as they see things I never would have considered. How grateful I am for ANWA and the great writers I've met through this group, women I never would have otherwise met.

Writing is a lonely business. The creating is primarily done alone, but I have found that critiquing is a very helpful step. Some writers may find they don't need it, but many writers thrive on having the comraderie of a strong critique group to give them direction and insight... and maybe even a bit of inspiration.


  1. Thanks Christine. Very thought provoking blog. We write on an island, then if we are lucky --- or wise, we share it with others we trust. I have several critique groups and a few family members and friends that have blessed me often with their wisdom. They catch things that more often than not, I just assumed the reader would know, after all, it was clear to me. Critiquing groups can be painful, but they help make our projects better, and help take away the "aloneness" of writing.

  2. Yes Christine writing is a lonely business, maybe that's why we all seem to be needy when it comes to please look at my work and tell me about what you think. Good post.

  3. I'm about to join a writing group. I've never done a writing group, but I'm very curious what it will be like. I get the impression that our group will include people of very different genres.

    I write LDS creative non-fiction, and some of the members of the group are not LDS. I'm glad they are willing to let me participate. I hope my religious stuff won't seem too out of place.

    Any suggestions?

    - Chas


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