It’s so easy to settle into an easy solitude when writing. We may close ourselves away in a quiet room and surround ourselves with music, perhaps a few candles as we get down to the business of writing.
But, there is one element in our development as writers that we should not forget — collaboration.
Working with other writers, sharing our stories and baring our souls, is an important part of growing our skills and abilities.
Working together can mean a simple exchange of manuscripts between writers or it can also be among an accomplished group of writing friends.
The benefits include a shared sense of camaraderie and constructive feedback that will propel your writing project forward.
Whether online or in person, there are some things to consider before you join or establish a writing critique group or partnership:
–Be open to the comments you receive and resist the urge toss away feedback that doesn’t feel comfortable to you. Don’t let your ego drive your participation; simply open your mind to the opinions expressed by your peers.
–Choose to partner only with writers who possess sound judgement and experience. They should be serious writers who share the group’s desire to advance their skills and publishing potential. If you know their own skills to be suspect, then find other pairing opportunities.
–Determine rules for sharing and critique that will be uplifting, but also helpful and constructive. Discuss ahead of time how positive feedback sounds: “I really like the words and images used to describe this scene, but I have some ideas for how to make it stronger.”
–Establish a streamlined system for sharing the group’s work so that there is adequate time to discuss and offer comments. This may mean providing manuscripts for the group to read before they arrive to a meeting.
–If you are partnering with another writer, set ground rules for your manuscript exchange. Carefully hold to deadlines to keep the critique process fresh and timely. Decide whether the writing will be exchanged via email or a even Dropbox account.
–And if you are taking part in a group critique, consider appointing a moderator who will be charged with keeping the group focused on the time allocated for reading and commenting.
–Resolve to be open and honest, not only in your critiques, but also in your hopes and aspirations for your writing. Networking in this way will make it happen.
Kerri S. Mabee