The Value of a Critique Group
by Tracie Miles
One of the best ways to improve your writing is by getting feedback from others. Writing is a form of communication. It doesn’t matter what the writer means. It only matters what the reader understands. Grammatically clean writing gives a sense of professionalism. A strong hook keeps the reader reading. And tight writing, with clear and concise words, communicates effectively.
But having others read your work and give input can be intimidating. Sometimes it can be hard to hear suggestions. However, remembering the goal of our writing, to glorify God through the written word, helps to give perspective. I pray before I read the critiques from others and ask God to give me a heart to receive feedback.
I remember when I first joined a local library group; the other members were kind in their comments, but on my way home tears fell because the others were more experienced. I felt like I wasn’t a good writer. I knew in my head they were trying to help me improve, but my heart felt like I’d shown my newborn baby to the world and they thought it was ugly. Since then, I’ve learned feedback isn’t someone rejecting my baby. Rather, it’s more like someone suggesting I change the color of the baby’s sweater so it matches the rest of the outfit.
Critiques aren’t reflective of someone’s character; rather, they are a growth opportunity. It’s important not to let feedback define you as a person. You have great value and worth in God’s eyes and nothing will change that. Remember feedback is just suggestions. You are the author, and you have the freedom to make the changes or not. Relax and enjoy the process. You don’t know what you don’t know. Choose to learn as you go.
There are many ways to receive feedback. There are local critique groups, or you can ask friends and family, and COMPEL members can join online critique groups. People often think they need to be an experienced writer to critique work. But wherever you are in your writing journey, your critiques are valuable. Readers can also offer their suggestions and ideas, and share what is working or not working for them. It is helpful for a writer to know what a reader is thinking.
When offering feedback, it is helpful to remember the goal is to offer positive encouragement and constructive criticism with a heart of gentleness and kindness to help a fellow writer grow and develop writing skills.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “… iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV).
When offering feedback, I pray and ask God to give me wisdom. Then I include one polish point and two praise points. There is wisdom in thinking about critiquing as a sandwich. The difficult thing we share is the meat. This is cushioned by two pieces of bread, which are the things we notice someone is doing well. Don’t shy away from pointing out what’s not working. However, when offering constructive criticism, offer suggestions on how to fix it, too. Comments should be helpful, never destructive or negative.
By Nancy Beach, COMPEL Training Member
COMPEL Training offers every member the opportunity to be involved in a Critique Group, which is a small group of 8-10 women who give feedback each week on each other’s writing pieces. As writers, we learn from not only receiving feedback, but also giving feedback to others! COMPEL Training registration opens up next week so get on the list to be notified!
Click here for more information!
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