Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why does my Writer's Critique Group session leave me feeling SO Great?

I just got back from a three hour critique session with four other female writers. We all emailed the group a new chapter of our novels last week. Today we went over everybody's chapter practically line-by-line, giving advice and impressions on general themes and even nit-picking over specific word choices.

I had so much fun! Even better, I came home fired up to write. Not content to just relax and enjoy the inspiration, I keep wondering WHY our sessions always affect me this way.

One of the women had to babysit her granddaughter today, so we met in the playspace at McDonalds. Nobody complained, we all know we might be the one  who can't get away from the kids next time. Besides it doesn't seem to matter where we meet. When we're together we block out all the noise and distractions and just concentrate on each other and on the writing.

When we started meeting over a year ago, I knew some of the advantages for being in a critique group, but I didn't know how much help the group would provide. First, it provides me a writing deadline. Every two weeks the group meets and that means constantly producing new material. This deadline pushes me to schedule time for writing and polishing my work.

I knew having other writers examine my work would give me fresh insight, marketing ideas and help on the manuscript before sending it out to an editor.  But I didn't realize how much this extra polish would improve my writing.

The critique group is an excellent atmosphere to exchange ideas with other writers. I get the benefit of receiving their input, experience and encouragement. Showing your manuscript to another person involves risk. What if they don't like it? Better to hear that from a fellow writer and polish it some more, than send the article all over the country, receive rejections slips, and never know why. 

But all that still doesn't quite explain my critique group "high".  I think that may be explained on a more elemental level: the value of female friendship. 

I believe friendships, our social connections are vital to emotional health. Friends provide a unique support that we cannot receive from families or children. Friends care about us as individuals and they care about our opinions and our feelings. They also enhance how we feel about ourselves.

Sometimes, women get so caught up in caring for families, spouses, children, jobs and a million other responsibilities that girlfriends may be the only people who can reach out to us and let us slow down. They share our experiences. They tell us jokes. They listen to our stories. We need girlfriends. 

1 comment:

Margo Dill said...

This is a great format for a blog. I have to totally agree with you that a writing critique group can motivate you and inspire you and just give you a chance to think about your work with people who REALLY get you! :) Thanks for sharing.

Margo Dill