How to Benefit from a Critique Group

CWCL Non-Fiction Workshop 7-28-16 (photo by CWG Staff)

CWCL Non-Fiction Critique Workshop 7-28-16 (photo by CWG Staff)

I’m excited about presenting the Non-Fiction Critique Workshop at the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference, July 18-21, for the fourth year. I draw from my experience as facilitator and co-facilitator of two different critique groups to demonstrate how a critique group works. Here are some guidelines on the whys and hows of critique groups.

Why a critique group?

No one can relate to our struggles like another writer. We all need the motivation to persevere. We take time from our writing because we need:

  • Deadlines and accountability. A commitment on the calendar to submit something of ours to other writers helps us become professional.
  • Feedback. This is the basic benefit of a writers group. On our own with no input from other writers, we have little direction and little confidence in our work. When we invest ourselves in others’ work we gain insight into our own.
  • Advice. Writers groups are the place to go for all kinds of resources. The Catholic Writers Guild exemplifies this. Be open to sharing what websites, seminars, articles and books help you with your craft and marketing. In both the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and the Catholic Writers Guild Non-Fiction Critique Group we have writers seeking traditional publishers and self-publishing opportunities. Suggestions range from structural changes to lack of clarity as well as format and design ideas. We use the Chicago Manual of Style as our standard.
  • Support and camaraderie. No one can relate to our struggle as a writer like another writer. Although writers groups are not designed as emotional support groups, the community of friendships we form by sharing our writing projects is invaluable both personally and professionally. It’s vital to keep the critique meeting focused on writing, but once it’s over, we can regroup and meet our writing friends for personal conversation and enjoy leisure time together. We encourage others because we care about their success.
  • Marketing connections. We naturally promote one another’s work on our blogs and social media. We help with book launches, attend book signings and write reviews. We introduce our writing group friends to anyone we know in publishing and marketing such as bookstore owners, radio commentators, newspaper and magazine editors and website columnists.

CWCLive Non-Fiction Critique Workshop 7-24-15 (Photo by Deanna Klingel)

CWCLive Non-Fiction Critique Workshop 7-24-15 (Photo by Deanna Klingel)

Giving and Receiving Critiques

Do you ever wonder just how to give a critique or how to receive one? I mean gracefully and honestly! On, I found critique tips excerpted from the book Don’t Forget to Write! A guide to building and maintaining a lasting writers’ group by D. M. Rosner. These tips are organized into two categories: giving critiques and receiving critiques, and help us focus on speaking and receiving the truth in love.

More tips like these are used in the workshop and incorporated in the guidelines for the CWG Non-Fiction Critique Group. The deadline for submitting your work for the critique at the conference workshop  is July 8. Come join us  on Thursday, July 20. Even if you have not submitted something to for us to critique, I invite you to listen in on the Non-Fiction Critique Workshop and see if you are ready to join a critique group. To join the CWG Non-Fiction Critique Group, contact me:

Building the critique community builds our craft and long-lasting relationships. I encouraged you as writers to join or form the critique groups you need. Attending the workshop will help you decide what you need to do to accomplish your writing goals.

The Catholic Writers Guild is all about networking, honing our craft and supporting other Catholic writers. The critique groups do all that – and more! They inspire us to be better writers and better Catholics.

Copyright 2017 Nancy HC Ward

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One Response to How to Benefit from a Critique Group

  1. Bravo Nancy! This was a great way to prime the pump for people to be excited to take part in the Conference critique group!