“I would love to write, but I’m not confident enough to let anyone else read what I’ve written.”
How many times have you heard someone say those exact words, or something close to them? After hearing these words, did you encourage the person to write anyway and offer to help them make improvements, or did you simply agree with them about how hard writing can be?
The purpose of writing groups and critique groups should always be to encourage fellow writers to write. Every writing conference I have attended echoed this sentiment. And I meet someone at every conference who shares their bad experience with critique groups. Fortunately, they haven’t given up on writing altogether.
My most important tip on being part of a critique or writing group would be, always encourage others. Find the good points in their writing and point them out before tearing into the weaker aspects of their work. Things like grammar and punctuation can be learned with time, if we don’t destroy the storyteller in the process.
As a writer, understand you have the opportunity to grow and learn. Don’t take criticism as an indication you shouldn’t be writing. Good writers want to help you learn the keys to making your story easier to read and understand. Be patient with yourself in the learning, and the rewards will be evident in your finished work.
Most importantly, keep writing. You can’t edit a blank page.
Gary Rodgers enjoys writing short stories and sharing tales from his childhood. Saving into written stories the tales he grew up listening to around camp fires and living rooms is his way of passing on a tradition. Contest writing helps him improve his craft, and he says it’s a lot of fun.