Friday, November 19, 2010

Writing Cannot Be Strictly An Independent Activity

Being a writer is a lonely life. Writers are often found sitting quietly in some corner of a coffee shop or hidden away in their cluttered office writing furiously on their stories. During these moments, the only people interrupting their thoughts are their characters each fighting for the right to have their stories told. Ahh, the creative process.

But, with all of that independent time, writers have to face the fact that their writing has to be seen by other people. Finding the right person, however, is often a difficult task.

Critique partners and critique groups are vital to the success of any writer wishing to be successful in this business. Unfortunately, too often writers end up pairing up with simply the wrong people to review their work. Here are some key flaws:
  • Relying on random reviewers from the internet. While I understand that many feel the internet is a viable alternative when they are unable to pair up with people face to face, this is really a weak method. We honestly have no idea who these other people are that are commenting on your work. I guess this is one of the reasons why I haven't found someone yet with a story I want to sign, who has worked with some of those online writing forums. In these cases, I'm talking about those sites where you post things like blogs to elicit feedback.
  • Working with writers that aren't experienced. While finding people who are published to be your CP would be great, it isn't always possible. Still, if you find someone who doesn't show any ability with their style of writing to be published, you might want to reconsider if this is the parternship you want. Listen to their approach to the business. This should tell you a lot.
  • Working with friends. Yes, you can work friends, but too often, writers who work with friends end up being not so reliable when it comes to critique. Since the friendship is so important, the honesty about the stories may not be there when you need it. Remember that when doing your critiques, the frienship has to be put on the back burner.
  • Working with people who only write what you write. This one is simple. If you see your story from your genre, and then you have someone else who sees it in the same way because they write in that style, you will both be reading with blinders on. Bringing in outside eyes and perspectives will always yield some new ideas that you would never have seen.

This is just a few things to consider, but I think these are vital. Feedback is great, but bad feedback will never help you.

Have a great weekend.



  1. This is so very true. I have two critique partners who are high the list of great things that have happened to my writing. They have different writing styles and voices from mine, and they write different genres, but they're able to look at my work and honestly tell me - in a way that makes sense to me - where it needs to be tweaked.

    That 'makes sense to me' bit is important as well. Critique doesn't do many any good if I can't figure out how to apply it.

  2. Hi Scott,

    Great advice, as always. May I ask where one might find a critique partner?


  3. Great post! I'm with you on all points. My only advice is to hold off on the critiquing until the writing is done -- unless of course you're in a class and have to submit work each week. Get it down, get it done, and then get it read. :)