Are there too many voices in your head?
Lots of writers are members of critique groups, and they can be extremely helpful. If you listen to interviews with authors, or sometimes read the acknowledgements in the front of a book, you will see plenty of evidence that when a critique group works well, it can be gold.
But, the truth is that they don’t always work well for a variety of reasons.
Here are a few comments I’ve heard from writers:
- They give contradictory advice—different members of the group focus on different things, and they don’t always agree, so it gets confusing.
- They give advice that isn’t helpful—even great writers are sometimes at a loss to explain how they do what they do. They may think that the focus needs to be on language, but early in the drafting process the focus needs to be on writing a basic draft, AKA Draft 0, so that you have something to work with. Correcting your grammar isn’t helpful until the very last step of the revision process.
- They only see snippets at a time and never have the whole plot for your novel in their head, so they tell you to do things that won’t work in the plot of your novel, or that a character wouldn’t do. Or they try to get you to fix non-existent problems or throw in extra stuff that doesn’t need to be there.
- They encourage you to rewrite the opening for the 500th time. Just don’t. I will tell you a secret…it will probably change by the time you get to the end and you will rewrite it anyway, so move on and stop trying to perfect the opening before you have a completed draft.
If you’ve experienced any of these, or maybe something else, send me a message, I would love to hear from you.
If you are interested in discussing a small group coaching experience, schedule a chat. Even if your critique group is wonderful, you might want more to make real progress on your novel.