Sometimes, the group’s rule will be that the person being critiqued should remain quiet and listen, not argue with someone’s suggestion or critique. At some point, though, you can ask questions, get clarification, explain something, or even argue a point. That back and forth is part of the critique.
Absorb what your critique partners are saying. Ask questions or get clarification.
You don’t have to take every piece of advice you get. But do listen to every comment or suggestion. Listen with your mind open, not closed to new ideas. If someone says or suggests something and it makes you grind your teeth, keep in mind that they’re giving you their honest opinion and advice. You may not always agree with them. That’s okay. Listen. Make notes. Go home and review your notes and think about what was said before dismissing any of the suggestions.
No matter how urgent it is to get your manuscript written and critiqued, you must spend time reading and evaluating the work of your critique partners. They need your help as much as you need theirs. If you glide over their work, don’t be surprised when they do it to yours. And if you continue to act as though you are the best writer in the group and your writing should take top priority, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to leave the group. You’re part of a team. The newest writer is just as important as the most seasoned.
A critique group where every member values the writing and advice of the others is a treasure. It may take a while to establish such a cohesive group. It may take discussion and a hammering out of what each person is looking for in the group. Each group is different, but one way they are all alike is that there must be trust. Each person must trust that everyone in the group is working in his/her best interest.
Critique partners want the other partners to succeed. They root for each other. They support each other. Each person’s success is a reason to celebrate.
What about your experiences with critique groups? What would you add?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~author, blogger, freelance editor and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its twelfth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series: