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60,000 words in to a new novel… what month is it?

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October 25, 2016 · 1:55 pm

Top 3 reasons you should be in a writing critique group

As writers, we tend to plunk away at our keyboards in isolation. Even if you write your best work in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, you’re still enveloped in the protective writer bubble of isolation. It’s what shuts out reality and lets imagination reign. This is where the isolation begins and ends.

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After we’ve fretted and pondered and written and re-written our literary works of genius, and before we let it fly on submissions, it’s time to let an impartial and objective set of eyes take a read. Yes, I know, you’re a brilliant writer, you don’t make mistakes, and your jaw-dropping prose makes other writers gasp in envy. But after the writing is done, the isolation of the writer absolves. Now it’s time for other people to get involved. It doesn’t matter if you have the gift, or that you believe your delicious prose is on fleek (did I use that word right?) your work as a whole could be a structural disaster. Or it may be an inadvertent expositional sermon. Your first twenty pages might read like a grocery list of character traits. A well-written grocery list, mind you, but a list none the less. And you might be able to fool the average reader with your clever prose, but publishers and book editors will see past all of that. They work with Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, remember? So, before you pay a professional to read and/or edit your work, join a critique group with a few other writers. Here’s the payback:

  1. Honest and objective opinions of your work. Writers have a tendency to be blind to their own work, but can spot errors in another writers work a mile away. Focusing on your work with other writers gives you specific feedback, valuable advice, and often creative suggestions that lets you view your work with fresh eyes.
  2. You will grow as a writer. Not only will you be receiving critiques but you’ll also be giving them. As you give and receive constructive feedback, you’ll be training your brain to look beyond the words and into the mechanics of your story. It provides the education and experiential growth that every writer needs to improve. And there is always room for improvement.
  3.  It offers motivation and accountability. Setting regularly scheduled meetings with your critique group offers a certain accountability. Being prepared for your group every week with a new piece of writing can be the kick in the ass some writers need to set the necessary time aside to write.

I would also suggest finding strangers to critique with. They will be the most objective. And the smaller the group, the more opportunity each of you will have to submit your work for discussion. It’s also important to find writers who are on (or about) the same level as you and who are avid readers. As time goes on, your relationship with these writers will become more and more comfortable, but the habit of their honesty and objectivity will already be established. These critiquing partners will become champions of your work in the future.

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And lastly, the most important thing to do before joining a critique group is to let go of your ego. You want writers who will shred your work to pieces and leave you weeping on the floor in the fetal position. (Well, maybe that will just be the first meeting.) If you require constant validation as a writer, get it from your family and friends. Joining a critique group is business. It’s education. It’s a commitment to yourself to become the best writer you can be.

Where can you find these other writers? In local workshops, writing classes, meetups, writing events, online, etc. They’re everywhere, and they need you just as much as you need them. And did I mention that all of this is FREE?

That’s it, there’s no more. What are you waiting for? Go get ’em.

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Looking for awesome? Rent ME!

It’s that time again. Time to roll up my shirtsleeves, wipe the sweat from my brow and hit the pavement internet looking for work. My six years of agency work is almost done, and in another month, I’ll be flying solo. And broke. Possibly homeless. (Don’t tell my kids.)

Unless, of course, there is someone out there who would like to pay me a comfortable living just for being awesome. Anyone? I am awesome, I promise. Even when I’m sleeping. Sugar daddies welcome. Well, without the sugar… or the daddy bit. Just send me your money.

In addition to writing, editing, social media consulting and the other shameless credentials I’ve noted below, I can also walk your dog, buy your groceries, give you a massage (I don’t touch feet), build you a deck,  teach you new cuss words, pour concrete, punch bees, mow your lawn, taste-test meals sent from your enemies, plant your garden, build you a lego village, change the oil in your car, sing you to sleep (although my fees for that one are particularly steep),  alphabetize your canned goods,  yell at your children (I’m highly skilled at this), blow up balloons, and internet stalk your ex’s new partner.

Please tell your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and all the strangers you pass on the street. Together we can end this insantiy and I can get back to writing my novel with peace of mind. I’ve grown accustomed to my house and I would like to stay in it.

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