A to Z Challenge 2013

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog Chain - Let's Get Critical

It's time for another round of the Blog Chain, brought to you by the talented Sarah Bromley who asks:

Do you work with critique partners? How did you find your crit pals and what influence have they had on your work?

The fact that I'm posting this late in the evening should give some indication of just how hesitant I am to answer.  Honestly, I've really had to give this one some thought because I just wasn't sure what I'd put down.  Like everything else in my writing career however, I'm just going to work my way through the answer so bear with me.

Critique partners is an area where I am truly lacking.  In all honesty, I've only had my stuff critiqued twice (and one of those times was for a writing class).  So at this point, I really don't have critique partners.  And while it might be hard for me to admit it, a lot of it revolves around fear.  I know we all feel that fear at one point or another, but I guess I haven't conquered that particular mountain just yet.  This is probably why I'm still editing, still trying to find those golden nuggets in my story that will make it shine brightly enough so I can share it with someone else.

Having said all this, I know how valuable having a critique partner is.  The two times I did have my stuff critiqued, I learned a lot (both about my own writing as well as other ideas for where to go with things).  Intellectually I realize that having a critique partner is what I need to get to that "next level", to truly advance my writing ability, to keep myself motivated, and to eventually get to the end goal - completing a whole book.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I am not ruled completely by the intellectual side of my brain, hence the reason I'm not there yet.

One looming question I have (and anyone can feel free to offer advice if they like) is how the heck I'll ever find a critique partner.  I did join a critique site and tried doing critiques that way, but honestly it just feels too disconnected.  While I don't mind reading and critiquing anyone else's work, I don't know that I could just toss it out there for anybody to critique.  I guess if I had my way, my crit partners would definitely be somebody whose writing skill I respect greatly.  It would also have to be somebody that really "gets me", if that makes any sense.  I tend to pour a lot of myself into what I write, because I believe writing from the heart is the best way.  So that kind of connection is probably helpful.

Since I don't have a crit partner however, I could just be spouting nonsense (feel free to call me on it, anyone).  As far as influence, I can tell you that my reasons for joining the blog chain fall along that path.  Every member on this chain is extremely talented, and I grab whatever I can from each of their posts.  They influence me because I learn new ideas, techniques, and habits from them all the time.  I read their books because I know there's good stuff there that I can learn from.

If you didn't get a chance to read what Michelle Hickman had to say yesterday, get on over there.  Yes Michelle, I do know I need to get my first one done.  I hear you loud and clear (grin).  Tomorrow everyone can look forward to PK's answer.

How about the rest of you?  Do you have crit partners?  And how do they influence your writing world?


Matthew MacNish said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with waiting until you're ready. Both emotionally and with you're writing.

When it comes to finding partners, I found mine through blogs, and I just asked people who seemed like they would be a good fit. Some didn't have time, or were already paired up with others, but some did, and we've been working together ever since.

Michelle H. said...

If I remember correctly, I asked on my blog and you offered. You can do the same.

I understand completely about the fear thing. I have the same problem with getting more crits. I think it has more to do with feeling uncomfortable about asking (in my case) then it is having people read my story. I feel like I'm bugging people who might not be interested in doing a crit.

Cole Gibsen said...

I found my crit partners through my local writing association (St. Louis Writer's Guild) and the QT Forums. Conferences are another great place to meet critters. :)

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Posting your work for critique can be scary; I still get nervous on occasion when I get a message from my workshop saying someone reviewed a chapter of mine. It wasn't easy learning how to accept critique, but like everything else, practice helps. Good luck with your search for crit partners!

Christine Fonseca said...

Being emotionally ready is definitely key. For me - I found all of my CPs online. And after an exchange of crits we knew if we worked well together - if that makes sense

Michelle McLean said...

I found all my crit partners through QT as well, except for my very first group (QT wasn't up and running yet). For that group, I googled LOL and found Rom Critters (I was writing romance at the time). I was very selective when I googled. The members they had listed seemed like good writers and I had to submit a writing sample before I was approved for the group, so I knew they were selective also.

But I'd definitely check out QT. Or as Michelle said, ask and see who answers :D

Margie Gelbwasser said...

I think you should definitely wait until you are ready. One mistake I made with my work in the past is sending it out to people in very early stages. You get back a bunch of comments that end up discouraging you. I've learned now to get the whole story finished, or at least a good chunk so I know where it's headed, before letting others' visions cloud my thinking. I think, too, that maybe when you feel ready, the crit partner will appear too. Like the universe knowing what you need. :-)