Critical Friendships

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It can be difficult to look at your own writing objectively. Particularly if you are a new writer, it can be daunting to know if your work is at a standard where you can share it with the world.

This is where critical friends come into play and why they are important.

Critical friendships are good because…

  • Sharing gives a better perspective of what you are writing
  • Can pick up little mistakes
  • Can find the gaps
  • Tell you what is working or what isn’t
  • Can help when you are blocked
  • Give an alternative when you are stuck on which way to go
  • Help you to look at your writing more clearly
  • Support and friendship

Being a critical friend is also going help your writing as you learn to look for the above in other writers’ work you will only improve your own skills and understanding in what works and how it can be seen by readers.

 

Where to find critical friends

Facebook

I was recently asked to join a Facebook writing group. At this point we are sharing learnings and articles but I have had offers to read my work and I’m saving them up for when it counts.

There are so many opportunities on social media now to find groups of like minded people. I like Facebook but you may prefer Twitter or Google Plus or one of the many others,

 

Student groups and courses

My recent Masters course has been invaluable in improving my writing; for each unit I was a member of a small tutorial group and the critical friendships were great as members of the group came from various genre and backgrounds.

 

Writers groups

There are lots of opportunities for writers to get together. To find a group near you try your local writers centre.

 

What to look for in critical friends

  • People writing at a similar level to you.
  • Open and honest but fair.

Don’t be afraid to test out a group first – sit back and watch for a while and see how it operates then go from there.

Of the various groups I belong to I still have one critical friend who I value above all others. We have worked together for a long time, coming up to 10 years, and we write in similar genre although not in the same way. I love her writing and find her advice and critique of my writing both insightful and helpful.

Photo: Friends from Wikipedia Commons

Working Through Procrastination

I was still procrastinating by checking on my grades for my last unit of my Masters and reading the comments that had come through from my tutor, Rosie. And she repeated comments from earlier in the term – that I had started too late in the story and it was confusing.

Ok – I thought I’d fixed that but if Rosie said it again, clearly not.

Instead of going into panic, which I have done in the past when confronted by such criticism, I stopped to think about what Rosie was actually telling me. Chances are she was right. She is published after all and has been teaching for some time, she knows what she’s talking about.

And so I immediately opened a new word document and starting drafting a paragraph about the life my character had in the “real world” and her relationship with those around her. I also thought about how I could link the skills she has the “new world” with those she might already have.

The words flowed magically across the page and I produced a couple of rough pages that led me to the current start of my story. These two pages (about 500 words) will expand to around a 5000 word chapter that will set things up and introduce my character better than what I have now.

But I am not going to write that chapter now. Instead I have jumped back to the middle where I was stuck and powered through the rocky road to produce and clear and compelling story (I hope). I did this in a similar way to redrafting my beginning.

I made some dot points comparing what I had and what I needed to happen. I then spent some time rethinking my characters and what they were doing during this time and whether or not it was within character and showed any emotional growth. Then I was ready to redraft the problem chapters.

Although I also need to do this with the beginning, I will come back to that once I have finished this draft.

This process has crystallised for me the importance of having others read my work.  I will need to find myself a good editor/proof reader and consider a second beta reading group for when this draft is completed. But I don’t want to let that search way-lay me again. Focus first, particularly while I have some focus, and then work on the publishing side when it is ready.

Do you have a problem with procrastination? Share how you work around this to get your writing done.