Tonight is the big night! I’m reading the intro. to my new book at the open mic at our local writers’ group. How does that feel? Not too bad…
I have had quite a bit of experience with writers group since 2006, when I committed myself to the life of a writer by joining my first writers’ critique group. I was just getting into freelance writing and I knew I needed all the help I could get.
However, because of my background in counseling, I mistakenly thought my group would be more like a writing support group and less like the Spanish Inquisition. Boy, they could be pretty tough on me, and I left there in tears a few times.
I think it felt particularly hard for me, because I wrote about my own personal experiences in midlife hell, not children’s stories or fantasy. I felt like I was bearing my soul for the first time in public, and they would just rip it apart sometimes.
I’ve learned a lot since then. I now choose VERY CAREFULLY who I allow to critique my work. I generally choose those who have been through similar life situations, so they can tell me whether my words help them understand their experiences better. And I always work one-on-one with my critiquers because I know I have major issues with group shaming.
My advice when it comes to critique groups? Be careful and know exactly what you want from the experience. Tell them ahead of time whether you want grammatical help or just an overall response to your work. Tell them ahead of time if the material feels sensitive to you or you are feeling particularly vulnerable about it.
I’m feeling especially proud of the new book I’m working on now. It’s called “How to Believe In Love Again!” Learn how I used all of my counseling skills, sensitivity and intuition to find a way to believe in love again, and then how I found it at age 49! Hope to have it out by Valentine’s Day!