I agree that, whatever you do, you must get your work out somewhere, and have it read. Somehow, a writer has to make that connection between what he writes and what a reader is reading.
I sat in on a critique group once, and I was vaguely irritated by the whole thing. First off, they brainstormed together, which is wonderful. I know a couple people offered to help me brainstorm, lately, and I'm so stuck that I'm very tempted. (This is two projects ahead, btw. This is why I think a few projects in advance, so getting stuck doesn't mean I have to stop writing!)
I don't object to brainstorming together, and I don't object to exchanging ideas. Lord knows, two heads are better than one. Me? I'm suspect of any idea someone else can come up with. Isn't that silly? It's just that, I think that if someone else came up with it, then it's not original enough. That it's not 'me' enough.
That doesn't stop me from coming up with cliche ideas, I'm sure! It just lets me write under the illusion that it's original. If others helped me, I'm sure that they would come up with better ideas.
I don't write for myself. I write to be read. I make music to connect with an audience, and I write books to connect with my readers. I have no idea why I blog, LOL.
Anyway, my problem, is that I'm a people-pleaser. I got reader mail a few months ago, and I ended up writing a whole story based on a small comment she'd made. Not that she'd know it, but I wrote that story to please her. That's just the way I am.
That's why I could never do critique groups. I would try to please every member, and I would chase after their praise like a puppy running after a bone. Pleasing the critique group members would start to take precedence in my mind, and they would become the readers I envision when I sit down to write. (And for someone who doesn't normally think of their readers, this would be a huge check in the Pro column!)
What makes me such a hypocrite is that I've discovered that I love critiquing other people's writing. But it's good that I don't, because I would end up caring more about other people's work, than my own. I'd work harder for them, than I would myself. I just would.
But critique groups can be awesome! What do you guys think? I was thinking, critique groups are probably vital if:
- The writer is not getting published, even in the small leagues.
- The writer knows he/she needs to improve, but doesn't know where.
- The writer wants company.
- The writer needs that commitment to help motivate themselves.
- The writer wants to hear how his work sounds from the readers' perspective.
...what else? How do you feel about it?
I have a pacing group that I would swear by. I love them. We just post to each other, every day, how many words we've written. The rule is that we write 100 a day. That's not a whole lot, but every one of us has taken our productivity to amazing levels. I love them to death; they're amazing.
But the critiquing? In the end, it's got to be me and my butt and my chair and my fingers.