Forming a Critique Group 101
On finding a group of writers and keeping them together.
It can be frustrating to find a critique group if you’re a new writer. Groups often don’t take new members or don’t advertise when they do. That’s why it’s usually easier to just start your own group. I recommend getting out in the community and meeting other writers, then finding those that truly get your voice and what you’re doing with your writing. Here are a few tips on forming a critique group, all of which can be adapted to suit your needs. None of these are hard and fast rules, of course. No two writing groups are the same!
- Get out there. The easiest way to meet other writers is to go to writing events and talk to people! Yes, I know it’s scary, and I know that many writers are introverts. But you’d be surprised how just putting yourself out there can help. Check out Meetup.com, your local Facebook groups, and bookstore events in your area. Poetry readings, open mics, and book signings are great places to meet writers. When you get to a writing event, go up to people and ask them what they write, what area of town they’re in, or what their favorite book is. Find people who write what you write or who seem interesting and engaged. Then, ask if they’re looking for a critique group.
- Be exclusive. Set a limit on the number of members in your group. 4–6 is a good number. Anything less will feel like you aren’t getting a varied enough response. Anything more will be too hard to manage in a short time period.
- Pick a location. It’s easiest if you meet somewhere quiet like a library, but it’s better if you meet somewhere that has food like a cozy café. Make sure it’s central to your members. Or, create an online group using Facebook or Slack. I always recommend that even if you’re doing an online group, it should have a “meeting” component like a monthly chat or skype call. This is because it’s very easy to get distracted and miss deadlines when you don’t have the expectation of a face-to-face.
- Aim for diversity. Think about your members in terms of what experience they bring to the table. Ideally, you want a balanced group in terms of gender, age, background, experiences, and other factors like genre. It’s okay to be…