Jackie Hosking Networking Column 2Join a Critique Group

by Jackie Hosking


Hello boys and girls. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Once upon a time...

Of course I'm being silly now... or am I? Sometimes when you're stuck, 'Once upon a time' can unstick you. For me it is like a key. It unlocks my imagination. Good advice? Now there's a word us newbies crave - advice, and for the record I used to always spell it wrong (with an 's'). Thank you so much for all your advise, I wrote to a very well known children's author who promptly replied and corrected my error. Needless to say I've not spelt it wrong since.

Have I wandered? Am I leading you astray? Definitely not. In today's writing world editors are too busy to correct our silly errors. Our work must be perfect with a capital 'P'. Stephen King once said that to write is human but to edit is divine. Wise words indeed. So if editors are too busy to edit, how can we make their lives easier, and consequently our chance of being published more likely? And here's where my slightly windy path is leading - nothing like the scenic route to heighten the senses, wouldn't you agree? - JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP!

Last time, I talked about joining Yahoo! groups. Hands up who did their homework. Writing can be a lonely business but with today's technology it doesn't have to be. Use the Internet to your advantage. Meet other writers, ask them lots of questions, don't be shy. There is nothing more flattering than being asked for advice. When Marg asked me to write this column I couldn't stop smiling - I'm still smiling actually.

Human beings are tribal. We learn from each other which, if you think about it, saves us a lot of time. Imagine having to learn everything from our own experience only. You get my point. Join a writing tribe. Learn their rules, perfect them and pass them on. It makes for a richer experience.

Okay, enough philosophy.

What is a critique group and where can you find one?


Before I elaborate let me just side step for one minute. I am not an expert critique group creator, finder or member, for that matter, but I do follow, and here's that word again, this little piece of advice - write what you know. This column is about what I know and I offer my experience to you - which in turn provides me with more experience: priceless stuff. A critique group will do the same for you. You will learn, and as you learn, you will teach, and as you teach, you will learn some more.

In my short writing life I have belonged to about seven different critique groups. Presently I belong to five and I am active in three but you need to be sensible. It is a trial and error process. If, after participating in your group you find that it does not suit, then leave, there are plenty more out there. All of my groups operate via email which saves on travel time. It also means that I can belong to a group that is based overseas. This is handy if you wish to submit your work to foreign markets.

Back to what I know. You have two choices:

1. Join an existing group.

2. Create your own group.

How do you find existing groups? You can contact your local or state writers' centre, you can search for groups on the Internet, or you can do what I did and stumble across one just by chance. I wouldn't recommend that now that I have the benefit of hindsight. It's just silly.

Try typing these words into a Google search - writing critique groups + your country* + beginners - and see what comes up. To find groups more specific to your style and needs add - poetry or children's or short story or science fiction etc. [**Type in your country, or, if you wish, a different country]

If you are partial to writing for children, as I am, you might like to sign up for my free networking newsletter, PASS IT ON. List members interested in forming or joining a critique group may contact me to register their interest. Three new groups have been formed this way. There are six members to each group. It's simple. I am not involved. I just put interested parties in touch with one another. Easy peasy - so what are you waiting for?


Last time I invited readers to join a Yahoo! group. As a challenge, for all of us, I suggested that you find and join a group that I would try to create. I met that challenge and so far we have two members - Marg and myself! So this month you have two tasks and to make it easy I will give you the link to the home page of the Yahoo! group that I have created. The link is...

Group home page: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thewritingjourney 

Your second challenge is to seek and find a critique group, because without one you are only cheating yourself.

Till next time.

Your writing buddy



© copyright Jackie Hosking


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