Ode to the writer’s group whose hearts yearn to help.
Although their comments may make your nose hairs stand on end,
And their constant debating gives you an earache.
In the end, we writers are all but lost without our dear group,
For who else can truly understand our sacrifice?
As we all know, a writer’s group is one of the most important factors in the world of the written pen. For myself, I belong to a wonderful writer’s group that only has the best intentions for its members. However, I have been at the other end of the stick, where the comments and critiques were more critical than necessary.
There are signs of a good writer’s group. One is if they give positive critiques. Instead of always telling you what’s wrong with your writing, they should also be telling you what’s right with it. Another sign is if the group supports each other. Do they celebrate the accomplishments of their members? Do they cheer you on or listen to your problems? Finally, it’s all about respect. We as writers have to respect each other no matter if opinions differ. A good writer’s group does just that.
However, there is no perfect group. They’re run by humans for Pete’s sake, humans that have emotions (probably strong emotions if they are writers) and desires. Feathers will be ruffled every now and then.
So what are some negative things that can happen within a writer’s group? One is when a member becomes bothered with the critiques they are given. Usually they disagree with them, especially if they are too negative. This is understandable because we all want our work to succeed, and having someone point out its negatives can makes us worry our story is going to come crashing down. We pour a lot of our time and soul into writing. When people tear it down, we tend to sometimes feel we are being torn down and not the story.
First, you will never get anywhere in the writer’s business if you can’t take a negative critique. They are bound to happen. Why, because not everyone will agree with or like everything you write. That’s just the law of the land. Second, it’s how you handle what you think is negative. I’m a passionate person, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m well aware that I worry over things too much, but that is what I do. To compensate for this, I allow myself a little “worry” time and then, “Bam!” I’m over it. It becomes small potatoes to me. If this is you, my suggestion is to get a trusted friend and “vent” to them. One that you believe will understand where you’re coming from, (hopefully, this can be a fellow writer). Also, be aware of how things affect you and make an effort to change those feelings for the better. It’s not a good feeling to be upset or worried.
Now sometimes, the person critiquing can get upset when they believe the author doesn’t agree to their suggestions. I’ve seen this more than once. The person giving the critique gets so involved with trying to “fix” the story that they don’t understand why the author doesn’t agree with them. The good news is this usually stems from wanting the best for that author, at least that’s my opinion. So the point is, all members need to accept the fact that their suggestions aren’t always going to be used, but are well appreciated. If they don’t, then the critiquing group can quickly become a debating team where the members feel as if they have to prove their comments are correct.
So if you haven’t yet, and I believe most of you have, go join a writer’s group, but make sure to go in with an open heart and mind. Just remember, your story is…YOUR STORY, and no one can change that. It’s up to you to decide to take or leave a critique, which is, after all, just somebody’s suggestion. In time, you will discover your fellow writers are gold, and they will become your second family.