By Cheryl Reifsnyder
Last week, my lovely friend Laura wrote about how the Wild Folk critique group has provided her with encouragement, camaraderie, writing insight, and more during her path toward publication. Critique groups are fantastic, as almost anyone who has a critique group will tell you.
But how do you find a critique group?
When I first started looking for a group, I was woefully unsuccessful. I hear the same complaint from writers across the country. Finding that great critique group can be a challenge—but it’s not impossible.
Step 1: Determine your critique group needs
Before you begin your search, decide what qualities you care about in a group. Do you want…
- Face-to-face interaction, or would an online group better suit your needs?
- A group focused on your genre, or are you open to a group with different types of writers?
- An established group, or are you willing to recruit members for a new group?
- Lots of structure, or do you prefer a more freestyle environment?
- Lots of activity, or a group with a minimal critique load?
Step 2: Connect with other writers
Whether you’re looking for an existing group or plan to start your own, you need to hobnob with other writerly types. Not sure where to find other writers? Try…
- Local events: Meet local writers!
- National conferences: Connect with your new writer friends in an online venue.
- SCBWI: Some chapters help members connect with critique groups through online resources or at conferences (see “Critique Connect” on p. 12).
- Online or local classes: Learn something here or here or at your local community college—and get to know other writers (potential critique group recruits) along the way.
- Online Resources such as news groups and listserves: Connect with other writers to find critique partners. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The “Blue Board”: Children’s writer Verla Kay’s message board for children’s writers and illustrators
- Children’s Book Insider’s message boards: aka the famous “Yellow Board”; you must be a member/CBI subscriber to use this feature
- Children’s Writing listserve: on Yahoo groups; must sign up with Yahoo (free) and join group to participate
- NFforKids listserve: also on Yahoo groups, discussion group for all topics related to nonfiction writing for children
- Writing-World.com: offers links to online critique groups of all sorts
- Meetup.com: a service to connect like-minded individuals face-to-face in just about every area
Step 3: Enjoy!
Once you’ve connected with other writers, you’re on your way—if you find an existing group, great! But if you don’t, don’t be afraid to start your own: you’re not the only writer out there searching for a fantastic critique group connection!
More Critique Group Resources…