The Art & Necessity of Critique:
copyright 2011 Hilari Bell
Originally posted on hilaribell.com Winter ’10
What else I've learned about writing groups in the last 7 years--Size Matters.
It seems like every time I've been on a writer panel in the last few years, the topic of writing critique groups always comes up. Some time ago I wrote a couple of writing tips on how to find/create a writing group, and how to give and take critique once you've got one. But I've found myself discussing critique groups a lot lately, and while all the things I said seven years ago are still pretty much true, there are a few things I've realized lately that are probably worth adding.
Since I published my two tips on writing groups, one of my two groups has folded. (I miss you guys!) The other is still going strong, and we're now a couple years past our 25th anniversary! Both of them were great groups--but why is one (that met for over ten years) now dissolved and the other still going strong? There are probably a couple of reasons, but I believe the most important factor in the second group's longevity is: the size of your group makes a difference. And bigger is better.
Group Fade: When most people set out to form a writing group, they think the ideal group will consist of four or five other writers who are their equals or better in skill, who totally get their work, and will become their close friends. They're looking for a small group of perfect writing soul mates. And you might even succeed in putting together a group like that for a while. But I've talked to a lot of writers over the years who are looking for a new group because... "First Gracie moved away, then Juan got transferred, and then Louisa had the new baby and couldn't make the meetings, and then there were only two of us."