Each of them are members of different groups and brought to light the positives and negatives of their individual groups. Michael and Claire find working with those writing in the same genre is beneficial where the group Frances is in is comfortable with a variety of genres. Michael takes part in two different groups--one for novels and one for screen plays. These two types of writing are very different, so for her it is more beneficial to belong to both.
I will say that I've had my misgivings about belonging to a writer's group. My initial experience with one was rather degrading. Many times I would leave after my work was critiqued feeling worthless and wanting to quit. So according to our speakers, the best thing to do is to set up rules of engagement. Here are some simple tips.
- Provide constructive criticism ONLY. This doesn't mean we should sit around complimenting something that isn't written well. It means we need to give that person ideas and suggestions on improving the writing without being abusive. Most important is to make sure there is a suggestion--don't just tell the writer that it stinks or you don't like it or it doesn't make sense. Be prepared to tell them why it affects you in that way and how you feel it could be improved.
- Be able to take criticism. What's the point of going to a critique group if you don't want to be critiqued? Listen carefully to each suggestion. Explain your reasoning without getting involved in an argument. All you have to do is take their suggestions, think about them, and either use them or chuck them. Simple as that.
- Find a group in which you feel comfortable. As I discovered, there are some groups that simply aren't for you. Some personalities just don't mesh. Don't be afraid to check out several groups before you settle in to one that will be the most beneficial to you.
So, don't give up on the idea of a writers' critique group. They can be very beneficial. You just need to find the one that's right for you.
Until next time.