By Alissa Johnson
I recently hosted a live Q&A. Writers from across the country—North Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado, even Washington—joined me on the Facebook page to talk about critique groups, getting feedback to your writing, and the Inspired Writers Master Track. And you know what? Minds were blown. Mine included.
It's one of the things I love most about WritingStrides. I get to connect with writers like you, talk "shop," and put things into words that I've known for a long time but never said in so many words. The result is that I get inspired and other writers do too. This Q&A was no exception, and I wanted to share one of the ideas that seemed to have the biggest impact:
Being ready to join a critique group or get feedback to your writing has less to do with your writing than it does with you.
Instead of worrying about the quality or writing, consider whether you're ready for the input and to guide your piece forward.
Here's what I mean: Writers often ask me how to know if they're ready for a critique group or to get feedback. What they really mean is, is my writing good enough? They feel like they need to wait until their writing has reached some elusive measure of quality before they can participate.
Yet the point of a critique group is not to share a perfect piece or demonstrate that you know what you're doing. Yes, it's nice when your early readers confirm you're on the right track. But hand your writing over to someone for feedback, and I guarantee he or she will find something that needs work. The point of a critique group is, let's not forget, to get feedback!
And that's important—you can only see your work so clearly, and respectful, thoughtful feedback is one way a piece improves. It's also how you, as a writer, grow. That's why I recommend two things when you're considering a critique group:
- Sharing work that's less developed so you're more open to feedback
- Considering whether you're in the frame of mind to receive input
If you have a work in progress and you sense there are things that need to change, or you wonder if there are, it's probably a good time for feedback. If you're so in love with an idea that you only want to hear it's great, it's probably time to wait. (Believe me, there are plenty of times I wait.)
The main point to remember is that a well-planned and facilitated critique group is going to help you along your path toward mastery; it's not the end destination. Want to learn more? Catch the replay of our critique group discussion here. It's well worth the watch.
When you do, let me know which piece of advice or insight was most helpful for you.