Solving the Mystery of Writing Step #4 and Farewell

In a previous post, found here http://blog.mormonletters.org/?p=4064 we discussed Solving the Mystery of Writing and Step #1 Finding Your Voice in my 6 Steps for Writing Success and Step #2 Write Every Day http://blog.mormonletters.org/?p=4700.
Today I’m continuing with #4 Join a Critique group
Tip #3 I talked about in this post http://blog.mormonletters.org/?p=4440

#4 Join a Critique group
If you’re serious about writing, attend writers conferences and classes, join a great critique group, read novels in your genre of interest, and write, write, write!A critique group is vital to a developing and seasoned writer. I’m so thankful for my critique group and how they have helped me grow as a writer.
When you’re looking to join a critique group, it’s helpful to find writers with varying skills—not all beginning writers or all advanced writers. If the group has a good mix of skills that will serve you best. By this I mean, if you are a beginner, you need to get in a group with other beginners and a few writers that have more experience. If you’ve already been part of a critique group, written several novels, attended many classes, you might look to a group with few beginners, more middle-ground writers, as well as some advanced writers.
Take into account personality, work ethic, drive, etc. because these will make or break the critique group’s productivity.
Also, learn how to take criticism and know when to apply it to your writing and when to chuck it out the window. This is a hard line to find because many times we hear criticism and our first instinct is to disregard it—you have to give the feedback a chance, mull it over, decide what you can take to improve
your writing and decide if you need to hold onto it or let it go.
Let me tell you a little about how my critique group works. We do all of our editing online. For short pieces, we each choose a specific color (mine is purple) and reply all in an email with our feedback typed in. For long documents, I use the track changes/editing features in Microsoft Word and then email the document. This works well for me because I have a young family. I hope to someday evolve into meeting regularly with a live critique group as there are specific advantages to this—such as hearing others read
your work aloud, getting instant feedback, having a regular time which drives you to accomplish your work so it can be critiqued.
When I receive feedback, I always read through it first and immediately change the things that resonate with me. Some things I will read and I’m unsure as to how to fix it or if I like what was suggested. If that is the case, then I make a note and come back to it in a couple days. Giving feedback a chance to percolate is helpful because many things will come to the forefront and you’ll be able to see more clearly what you need to do to make your writing better.
A critique group is important because it keeps you writing and stretching to improve your writing. Revision is what makes excellent writers and practicing this regularly with a critique group will help you hone your craft.

Sadly, this is also a farewell post for now. I’ve been doing a lot of extra work lately to help pay off medical/dental bills and with my young children, I had to let some things go. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the AML blog family and learning from each of you. If you are interested in a PDF of my steps to Solving the Mystery of Writing, I have prepared a document which finishes out the steps I’ve been sharing over the past year with you.  I’d be happy to email it to you, just send a note to rachellethewriter@gmail.com. If you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing, please stop by my blog here http://rachellewrites.blogspot.com/ where you can also sign up for my free newsletter.

I hope that you have many happy writing days ahead and enjoy this beautiful holiday season!

About Rachelle Christensen

I’m a mom of four cute kids—two girls and two boys. I have an amazing husband, three cats, and five chickens. My first novel was awarded Outstanding Book of the Year from the League of Utah Writers and was also a 2010 Whitney Finalist. My second suspense novel, CALLER ID, was released March 2012. I was born and raised in the rural farmlands of southern Idaho and I like to work over my tiny piece of field AKA garden each year. I love reading, running, singing and playing the piano. After graduating from Utah State University, my husband and I moved our family to Utah County. Visit my blog at www.rachellewrites.blogspot.com to learn more about upcoming books.
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7 Responses to Solving the Mystery of Writing Step #4 and Farewell

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    Rachelle,

    I agree that critique groups are a critical part of the formula. I’m currently a member of two different groups, one of which meets via Skype (3 of the members are in Utah, plus me in Wisconsin). That works surprisingly well.

    Thanks also for your contributions to the AML blog, and good luck with your writing going forward!

  2. Mark Penny says:

    Writing groups are something we’ll be encouraging and facilitating at Lowly Seraphim (still under construction).

  3. Th. says:

    .

    I have a critique group but we only meet once a month, which isn’t enough now. What I need are super-critical groupies who will be available whenever I need them . . . .

    • Ha, ha! Yes, I need a few critique groups that are just waiting for my next project with a three day turnaround. :)

    • Scott Parkin says:

      I do both. I’m in a small, focused critique group, but also have a handful of good readers who I send things to for quick reads (always looking for more quality readers…).

      Making sure to seek the input of a variety of different readers types is critical to seeing how different audiences are likely to respond to your work.

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