In January a friend and I started a small critique group. We were aiming for a group of four-five. We started with four, had five for a few minutes, and are currently at three members.
The first few months of critiquing were hard. Getting a critique was hard because you never knew what kind of comments you would get. Giving a critique was hard because you weren’t sure what you were saying was well phrased or helpful. Over time giving and getting critiques has gotten easier. I discovered that if I submitted something fairly new, I wasn’t attached to it. When you aren’t attached hearing that an entire section is crap isn’t a big deal.
These days the ups and down of critiquing come from finding the time.
The few days before the submission deadline are hard. Deciding what I want to share with other people is difficult, and sometimes finding the time to do an editing pass or two on the selected section feels impossible.
Then the few days before the critique meeting itself are filled with reading and rereading the submissions for the month. Sometimes finding the words to say how well or poorly something works is hard. Many months I find myself thinking that critiquing is too hard, and I’m not sure I want to keep doing it. I know it helps my writing, but is it where I want to put my focus right now?
Last is the big meeting itself. I come out of a critique meeting feeling ready to work hard and excited for the future of both my own stories and those of my critique partners. The conversations we have about passages that work or don’t are very helpful regardless of if I was the one to write it or not. For a few days I know all the time I put in was worth it, and I got something amazing out of it.
For now I’m going to keep submitting and critique with my little critique group. Maybe there will come a time when I need to put my focus and time somewhere else, but for now I’ll push through the submission and reviewing to get to the good stuff.
Do you have a critique group? Do you ever wonder if it’s worth it?