Writers Playing Well With Others

LastChanceXmasBall.FromAnneby Mary Jo

Occasionally I've been asked who I might like to collaborate with to write a book.  My answer is more or less "That will happen over my dead body!"  It's my book.  MINE!!!

Yet though writing is justly known as a solitary pursuit, that doesn't mean that writers don't like talking with other writers, and that we can find ways of benefiting from such interactions.

I'm part of an online book club of long time authors.  We all started in romance, and some have gone in different directions such as mystery, women's fiction, and paranormal.  But we're all storytellers in our DNA, and our last book discussion slid into talking about writer's processes (often very different} and that morphed into a discussion of working with others in a constructive way. 

Imposter's Syndrome is pretty common, even among successful writers who have written EchoesOfTerrorFront (1)dozens of books.  The feeling, usually when one is in the middle of writing a new book, that someone will say "You're a fraud!  You don't really know how to write!"  This can happen despite the evidence of multiple awards and bestselling books, proving that authors are masters of cognitive dissonance. <G> 

As Maris Soule said, "I know I was relieved, years ago, when I heard other successful writers say they feared one day the world would discover they really didn't know how to write or create a story."  

 

Full BloomAuthor Judith Arnold said, "I have to figure out and solve a book's problems myself. I'm always afraid that if I let others in on the process, I will lose what little control I have over the material. I fear that I'll wind up writing someone else's story, not my own. Of course, once a manuscript is done, I get input from editors. But that's different–because the manuscript is done. I appreciate a good editor's criticisms and I'll address them. But while the book is still in progress, I can't let anyone else into the process. How about the rest of you? Critique groups? Critique partners? Or solitary strugglers, like me?"

It turns out that positive feedback from other authors is really useful at convincing us that a book is working.  An interesting insight that emerged as we discussed this was that over time, there has been a change in the kinds of writers groups, and in what we want from such groups.

Critique Groups

Critique groups were very much A Thing when I started writing.  (There were online forums in places like Prodigy where writers would post whole books in progress.)  For writing neophytes, much could be learned about publishing, agents, submissions, and more in critique groups with more experienced writers. I'm sure there are long running critique groups that are warm and supportive, good at fingering problems with a manuscript and also saying what is working well.  But the word "critique" is related to criticizing, and a group has to be much more than critical to be useful. Here are some of our experiences with those early critique groups. 

Patricia McLinn, said, "I was in critique groups early-on. First one lasted about 18 months and was helpful because it was so very early and I knew zip. Next one lasted a lot longer, also was helpful early, but gradually faded out as most of the others stopped writing. DeathonTorridAve_new_ebook_small Critique group was tough for me because of writing out of sequence and writing faster than the group — we met once a month and they wanted to look at a chapter at a time and I'd be way past the next chapter."

MJP again: I went to a local critique group exactly once, when I was starting my second book.  It was under contract but I was new and uncertain and wanted feedback.  People read the first chapter and immediately started piling on with comments that were not my story!  I felt as I was being assaulted by foam rubber bats.  I shut up, thanked people, and never returned.

Emilie Richards, who loves her active brainstorming group, had the same experience in a critique group: "I went to one critique group session a very long time ago,  and I would never do it again."

Judith Arnold discussed critiquing more expansively.  "In the MFA program I attended eons ago, most of the classes operated like critique groups, although it was called "workshopping" a manuscript. You'd do some writing, then print out copies of what you'd written and pass them around to the others in the class, read your work, and have the class critique it. The professor would usually add his comments (all my creative writing profs were men, for some reason) at the end. What I found myself doing was writing to please the critique group. I wanted them all to read my work and say, 'Wow, this is great!'

But by the time I was done with my MFA, I realized that other MFA students seated around a table–and certainly all those male professors–did not comprise the audience I needed or wanted to reach, so writing to please readers like them was not going to help me fulfill my ambitions as a writer."

Lady in Lace Cover MEDIUM WEBThere are other kinds of writer interactions, one of which is having a regular, long term critique partner.  Joanna Maitland said, "I've worked with the same critique partner for about 10 years now, essentially since I stopped writing for Harlequin and so lost a professional editor. We try not to read as editors but as readers. (We've discussed that and I accept that writers can never read as non-writing readers do, but we try our best.)

We highlight things that strike us as readers, such as (a) I fell over this sentence/paragraph, (b) I wanted more here, (c) I didn't understand what was going on, (d) I found myself disliking this character because…  (e) this didn't work for me because… 

We also highlight the good stuff, things that make us laugh, or cry, or marvel. Really important to do that. Generally there are a lot more positive than negative comments.   

One crucial thing with CPs is trust because you're letting someone in to your most private work. And you have to love each other's writing. I also think it helps if CPs don't write the same kind of books. I generally write historical; my CP generally writes contemporary. But we both read both plus lots of other genres.  I just hope my CP and I fall off the twig at the same time because I couldn't see myself having as good a working partnership with anyone else."

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is very different from critiquing because it's all about tossing out ideas as A Family of Strangersuncritically as possible because one never knows when a wild idea will lead to a brilliant breakthrough.  It's all about stimulating the imagination, and it's also great fun.  I've been part of a brainstorming triad with two of the other Word Wenches for years, and the sessions are very stimulating–and great fun. <G>

An important element of critiquing and brainstorming is to ask specifically for what we need.  Jennifer Greene put it well: "You have to ask for what you need, not just leave it open when you're going into a critique thing with 'outsiders.'  If you say, I don't want to hear about characters–that's mine….my conflict is set, don't want to discuss it…but I'd like to hear if my plot is going too slow, if you're interested in it, or how it comes across to you…. Every critique group I've ever been near, the members bubbled over to help, to share, to pour out 'stuff'–without considering what the writer actually needed from the conversation." 

Retreats:

The topic of brainstorming led into retreats. Judith Arnold said, "I would love to get together with other writers for a retreat, maybe rent a house somewhere and write all day, and in the evening drink wine and talk about what we'd accomplished and about writing in general. I would not want other writers tampering with my oh-so-precious words, but if I had a bad writing day, I'd love to be able to gripe to fellow writers, and if I had a great writing day, I'd love to be able to celebrate with fellow writers." (Word Wench Anne Gracie is part of a long running retreat group like that.) 

Joanna Maitland says, "I'm part of a group that does go on retreat once a year. There are 7 of us – writing different genres. Some bring partners. We hire a big house with at least 7 bedrooms, all with private bathrooms. We also ensure we have a huge kitchen/sitting/dining area where we can all relax.  We don't do any critiquing though everyone is happy to be a willing ear if someone wants to vent about good/bad things happening in their writing.

We do precisely what Judith Arnold suggested – we write all day (with a break for lunch, but not too long), drink wine and eat good food in the evenings. 

Broken BlossomThe one thing we usually do is to say, on the first evening, what we're planning to achieve during the retreat. Then, on the last night, we say whether we have. It does concentrate the mind especially for the procrastination prone, like me <g>  The partners usually go out during the day while the writers scribble. Partners also tend to do the food shopping which is very convenient."  

My conclusions:

1) Writers often want feedback from other writers, as long as it's done on our terms. <G>  Being as positive as possible is essential.

2) We need to be clear about what we want from the interaction. 

3) Critiquing and brainstorming partners absolutely must be people we trust.  We need to trust their honesty, their judgment (though that doesn't mean we'll always agree), and their kindness.  We need to trust that they're on our side. 

I'm talking about writers and writing here, but I'm sure that the general ideas apply in many other areas of life.  What's your experience of working productively with others? Please share!

Mary Jo

80 thoughts on “Writers Playing Well With Others”

  1. What a wonderful insight into the process of sharing creative work!
    Other than on the home front, i have never done this. When we’re planning to buy new furniture, do-over a room, and so on. my husband I brainstorm together. To begin with we put NO limits on the project, except perhaps physical space (there’s no point in planning for a ball room in a 3-bedroom house, after all). But we don’t limit expense, style, materials and so on. Once we know what we like, we start being practical about what we can afford, what will fit up physicaly, and other practical matters. We have never regretted a choice we’ve made in thie manner. We have always ended up pleasing both of us.
    i don’t think this is the same thing as you’ve been describing, but it’s as close as i can get in my own life.

    Reply
  2. What a wonderful insight into the process of sharing creative work!
    Other than on the home front, i have never done this. When we’re planning to buy new furniture, do-over a room, and so on. my husband I brainstorm together. To begin with we put NO limits on the project, except perhaps physical space (there’s no point in planning for a ball room in a 3-bedroom house, after all). But we don’t limit expense, style, materials and so on. Once we know what we like, we start being practical about what we can afford, what will fit up physicaly, and other practical matters. We have never regretted a choice we’ve made in thie manner. We have always ended up pleasing both of us.
    i don’t think this is the same thing as you’ve been describing, but it’s as close as i can get in my own life.

    Reply
  3. What a wonderful insight into the process of sharing creative work!
    Other than on the home front, i have never done this. When we’re planning to buy new furniture, do-over a room, and so on. my husband I brainstorm together. To begin with we put NO limits on the project, except perhaps physical space (there’s no point in planning for a ball room in a 3-bedroom house, after all). But we don’t limit expense, style, materials and so on. Once we know what we like, we start being practical about what we can afford, what will fit up physicaly, and other practical matters. We have never regretted a choice we’ve made in thie manner. We have always ended up pleasing both of us.
    i don’t think this is the same thing as you’ve been describing, but it’s as close as i can get in my own life.

    Reply
  4. What a wonderful insight into the process of sharing creative work!
    Other than on the home front, i have never done this. When we’re planning to buy new furniture, do-over a room, and so on. my husband I brainstorm together. To begin with we put NO limits on the project, except perhaps physical space (there’s no point in planning for a ball room in a 3-bedroom house, after all). But we don’t limit expense, style, materials and so on. Once we know what we like, we start being practical about what we can afford, what will fit up physicaly, and other practical matters. We have never regretted a choice we’ve made in thie manner. We have always ended up pleasing both of us.
    i don’t think this is the same thing as you’ve been describing, but it’s as close as i can get in my own life.

    Reply
  5. What a wonderful insight into the process of sharing creative work!
    Other than on the home front, i have never done this. When we’re planning to buy new furniture, do-over a room, and so on. my husband I brainstorm together. To begin with we put NO limits on the project, except perhaps physical space (there’s no point in planning for a ball room in a 3-bedroom house, after all). But we don’t limit expense, style, materials and so on. Once we know what we like, we start being practical about what we can afford, what will fit up physicaly, and other practical matters. We have never regretted a choice we’ve made in thie manner. We have always ended up pleasing both of us.
    i don’t think this is the same thing as you’ve been describing, but it’s as close as i can get in my own life.

    Reply
  6. Great post, Mary Jo. My first crit group was more of a couple of “experts” “correcting” the work of the rest of us — who were all newbies — according to “rules of romance” they insisted were pretty much hard and fast. I’ve never been a rule-keeper, so that didn’t suit me, and the effect of their zealous “corrections” ended up having the effect of covering people’s work with red and purple comments that sapped confidence and stopped the other newbie writers from producing any more work.
    My next crit group consisted of 3 of us from that original group, and we committed to being supportive, and respecting each others’ differences. They were a fab group, and we learned a lot from each other, but life got in the way, and we stopped meeting. I still miss them.

    Reply
  7. Great post, Mary Jo. My first crit group was more of a couple of “experts” “correcting” the work of the rest of us — who were all newbies — according to “rules of romance” they insisted were pretty much hard and fast. I’ve never been a rule-keeper, so that didn’t suit me, and the effect of their zealous “corrections” ended up having the effect of covering people’s work with red and purple comments that sapped confidence and stopped the other newbie writers from producing any more work.
    My next crit group consisted of 3 of us from that original group, and we committed to being supportive, and respecting each others’ differences. They were a fab group, and we learned a lot from each other, but life got in the way, and we stopped meeting. I still miss them.

    Reply
  8. Great post, Mary Jo. My first crit group was more of a couple of “experts” “correcting” the work of the rest of us — who were all newbies — according to “rules of romance” they insisted were pretty much hard and fast. I’ve never been a rule-keeper, so that didn’t suit me, and the effect of their zealous “corrections” ended up having the effect of covering people’s work with red and purple comments that sapped confidence and stopped the other newbie writers from producing any more work.
    My next crit group consisted of 3 of us from that original group, and we committed to being supportive, and respecting each others’ differences. They were a fab group, and we learned a lot from each other, but life got in the way, and we stopped meeting. I still miss them.

    Reply
  9. Great post, Mary Jo. My first crit group was more of a couple of “experts” “correcting” the work of the rest of us — who were all newbies — according to “rules of romance” they insisted were pretty much hard and fast. I’ve never been a rule-keeper, so that didn’t suit me, and the effect of their zealous “corrections” ended up having the effect of covering people’s work with red and purple comments that sapped confidence and stopped the other newbie writers from producing any more work.
    My next crit group consisted of 3 of us from that original group, and we committed to being supportive, and respecting each others’ differences. They were a fab group, and we learned a lot from each other, but life got in the way, and we stopped meeting. I still miss them.

    Reply
  10. Great post, Mary Jo. My first crit group was more of a couple of “experts” “correcting” the work of the rest of us — who were all newbies — according to “rules of romance” they insisted were pretty much hard and fast. I’ve never been a rule-keeper, so that didn’t suit me, and the effect of their zealous “corrections” ended up having the effect of covering people’s work with red and purple comments that sapped confidence and stopped the other newbie writers from producing any more work.
    My next crit group consisted of 3 of us from that original group, and we committed to being supportive, and respecting each others’ differences. They were a fab group, and we learned a lot from each other, but life got in the way, and we stopped meeting. I still miss them.

    Reply
  11. What a great summary of the possibilities. Like McPat, I wrote too fast for my once a month critique group to help in some areas, but as a support group, it was invaluable. I’ve only been on one retreat, but I loved it. These days I’m back to solitary writing and doing it under more than one name, but I’m lucky in that I have a husband who is excellent at both brainstorming and finding problems in the next to final draft. I enjoyed the input (and covers) from so many wonderful writers I knew back when I was still going to conferences. My TBR pile just got bigger.

    Reply
  12. What a great summary of the possibilities. Like McPat, I wrote too fast for my once a month critique group to help in some areas, but as a support group, it was invaluable. I’ve only been on one retreat, but I loved it. These days I’m back to solitary writing and doing it under more than one name, but I’m lucky in that I have a husband who is excellent at both brainstorming and finding problems in the next to final draft. I enjoyed the input (and covers) from so many wonderful writers I knew back when I was still going to conferences. My TBR pile just got bigger.

    Reply
  13. What a great summary of the possibilities. Like McPat, I wrote too fast for my once a month critique group to help in some areas, but as a support group, it was invaluable. I’ve only been on one retreat, but I loved it. These days I’m back to solitary writing and doing it under more than one name, but I’m lucky in that I have a husband who is excellent at both brainstorming and finding problems in the next to final draft. I enjoyed the input (and covers) from so many wonderful writers I knew back when I was still going to conferences. My TBR pile just got bigger.

    Reply
  14. What a great summary of the possibilities. Like McPat, I wrote too fast for my once a month critique group to help in some areas, but as a support group, it was invaluable. I’ve only been on one retreat, but I loved it. These days I’m back to solitary writing and doing it under more than one name, but I’m lucky in that I have a husband who is excellent at both brainstorming and finding problems in the next to final draft. I enjoyed the input (and covers) from so many wonderful writers I knew back when I was still going to conferences. My TBR pile just got bigger.

    Reply
  15. What a great summary of the possibilities. Like McPat, I wrote too fast for my once a month critique group to help in some areas, but as a support group, it was invaluable. I’ve only been on one retreat, but I loved it. These days I’m back to solitary writing and doing it under more than one name, but I’m lucky in that I have a husband who is excellent at both brainstorming and finding problems in the next to final draft. I enjoyed the input (and covers) from so many wonderful writers I knew back when I was still going to conferences. My TBR pile just got bigger.

    Reply
  16. Fascinating post. I’m always interested in the diverse ways that creativity is manifested.
    I think that procedures are very different in the world of science. Scientists like to attend conferences (usually in interesting locales … I have been all over Europe attending these meetings). The program generally consists of sessions where scientists orally present their latest research followed by questions and discussion. You get up to date with the latest ideas and meet world experts in your field. Dinner in local restaurants can lead to further discussion and possibly development of future collaboration. The travel is often considered one of the perks of the job! Listening to rival scientists expounding their ideas and criticizing others can be very stimulating and often sparks new ideas of your own.
    In the literary field I have noticed books and courses on creative writing, suggesting that it is a skill that can be learned. If so I would think that artificial intelligence could be used to create novels … heaven forbid!. However I suspect that my auto-buy authors each have unique qualities which are very hard to quantify or reproduce. I imagine that aspects of this may rub off through the interactive activities that MJP describes. I would like my auto-buy authors (including all wenches) to rub together regularly to enhance the qualities that I most appreciate in their writing …. i.e. knock stars of each other! 😊

    Reply
  17. Fascinating post. I’m always interested in the diverse ways that creativity is manifested.
    I think that procedures are very different in the world of science. Scientists like to attend conferences (usually in interesting locales … I have been all over Europe attending these meetings). The program generally consists of sessions where scientists orally present their latest research followed by questions and discussion. You get up to date with the latest ideas and meet world experts in your field. Dinner in local restaurants can lead to further discussion and possibly development of future collaboration. The travel is often considered one of the perks of the job! Listening to rival scientists expounding their ideas and criticizing others can be very stimulating and often sparks new ideas of your own.
    In the literary field I have noticed books and courses on creative writing, suggesting that it is a skill that can be learned. If so I would think that artificial intelligence could be used to create novels … heaven forbid!. However I suspect that my auto-buy authors each have unique qualities which are very hard to quantify or reproduce. I imagine that aspects of this may rub off through the interactive activities that MJP describes. I would like my auto-buy authors (including all wenches) to rub together regularly to enhance the qualities that I most appreciate in their writing …. i.e. knock stars of each other! 😊

    Reply
  18. Fascinating post. I’m always interested in the diverse ways that creativity is manifested.
    I think that procedures are very different in the world of science. Scientists like to attend conferences (usually in interesting locales … I have been all over Europe attending these meetings). The program generally consists of sessions where scientists orally present their latest research followed by questions and discussion. You get up to date with the latest ideas and meet world experts in your field. Dinner in local restaurants can lead to further discussion and possibly development of future collaboration. The travel is often considered one of the perks of the job! Listening to rival scientists expounding their ideas and criticizing others can be very stimulating and often sparks new ideas of your own.
    In the literary field I have noticed books and courses on creative writing, suggesting that it is a skill that can be learned. If so I would think that artificial intelligence could be used to create novels … heaven forbid!. However I suspect that my auto-buy authors each have unique qualities which are very hard to quantify or reproduce. I imagine that aspects of this may rub off through the interactive activities that MJP describes. I would like my auto-buy authors (including all wenches) to rub together regularly to enhance the qualities that I most appreciate in their writing …. i.e. knock stars of each other! 😊

    Reply
  19. Fascinating post. I’m always interested in the diverse ways that creativity is manifested.
    I think that procedures are very different in the world of science. Scientists like to attend conferences (usually in interesting locales … I have been all over Europe attending these meetings). The program generally consists of sessions where scientists orally present their latest research followed by questions and discussion. You get up to date with the latest ideas and meet world experts in your field. Dinner in local restaurants can lead to further discussion and possibly development of future collaboration. The travel is often considered one of the perks of the job! Listening to rival scientists expounding their ideas and criticizing others can be very stimulating and often sparks new ideas of your own.
    In the literary field I have noticed books and courses on creative writing, suggesting that it is a skill that can be learned. If so I would think that artificial intelligence could be used to create novels … heaven forbid!. However I suspect that my auto-buy authors each have unique qualities which are very hard to quantify or reproduce. I imagine that aspects of this may rub off through the interactive activities that MJP describes. I would like my auto-buy authors (including all wenches) to rub together regularly to enhance the qualities that I most appreciate in their writing …. i.e. knock stars of each other! 😊

    Reply
  20. Fascinating post. I’m always interested in the diverse ways that creativity is manifested.
    I think that procedures are very different in the world of science. Scientists like to attend conferences (usually in interesting locales … I have been all over Europe attending these meetings). The program generally consists of sessions where scientists orally present their latest research followed by questions and discussion. You get up to date with the latest ideas and meet world experts in your field. Dinner in local restaurants can lead to further discussion and possibly development of future collaboration. The travel is often considered one of the perks of the job! Listening to rival scientists expounding their ideas and criticizing others can be very stimulating and often sparks new ideas of your own.
    In the literary field I have noticed books and courses on creative writing, suggesting that it is a skill that can be learned. If so I would think that artificial intelligence could be used to create novels … heaven forbid!. However I suspect that my auto-buy authors each have unique qualities which are very hard to quantify or reproduce. I imagine that aspects of this may rub off through the interactive activities that MJP describes. I would like my auto-buy authors (including all wenches) to rub together regularly to enhance the qualities that I most appreciate in their writing …. i.e. knock stars of each other! 😊

    Reply
  21. Wonderful posting which gave me a glimpse into the various ways writer’s try to improve. I am not a writer except for letters to friends. When I had to write something important I would let my husband read it – just for typos and sentence structure – but he always would smile and tell me “it needs some tweaking” That meant total re-write which never sounded like me.
    In my jobs as a nurse, business owner, and other shorter jobs, I never had to critique creativity. In nursing – yes I had to do evaluations of my staff. I hated doing these except if they were doing a great job and I had no negative things to say.
    I would find critiquing someone’s creativity would be difficult – that goes for stories, art, pottery, needlework, knitting, quilting, acting, designing etc. To me this is their way of expressing themselves and why should I push my views? Of course in my own mind I may toss around some thoughts.

    Reply
  22. Wonderful posting which gave me a glimpse into the various ways writer’s try to improve. I am not a writer except for letters to friends. When I had to write something important I would let my husband read it – just for typos and sentence structure – but he always would smile and tell me “it needs some tweaking” That meant total re-write which never sounded like me.
    In my jobs as a nurse, business owner, and other shorter jobs, I never had to critique creativity. In nursing – yes I had to do evaluations of my staff. I hated doing these except if they were doing a great job and I had no negative things to say.
    I would find critiquing someone’s creativity would be difficult – that goes for stories, art, pottery, needlework, knitting, quilting, acting, designing etc. To me this is their way of expressing themselves and why should I push my views? Of course in my own mind I may toss around some thoughts.

    Reply
  23. Wonderful posting which gave me a glimpse into the various ways writer’s try to improve. I am not a writer except for letters to friends. When I had to write something important I would let my husband read it – just for typos and sentence structure – but he always would smile and tell me “it needs some tweaking” That meant total re-write which never sounded like me.
    In my jobs as a nurse, business owner, and other shorter jobs, I never had to critique creativity. In nursing – yes I had to do evaluations of my staff. I hated doing these except if they were doing a great job and I had no negative things to say.
    I would find critiquing someone’s creativity would be difficult – that goes for stories, art, pottery, needlework, knitting, quilting, acting, designing etc. To me this is their way of expressing themselves and why should I push my views? Of course in my own mind I may toss around some thoughts.

    Reply
  24. Wonderful posting which gave me a glimpse into the various ways writer’s try to improve. I am not a writer except for letters to friends. When I had to write something important I would let my husband read it – just for typos and sentence structure – but he always would smile and tell me “it needs some tweaking” That meant total re-write which never sounded like me.
    In my jobs as a nurse, business owner, and other shorter jobs, I never had to critique creativity. In nursing – yes I had to do evaluations of my staff. I hated doing these except if they were doing a great job and I had no negative things to say.
    I would find critiquing someone’s creativity would be difficult – that goes for stories, art, pottery, needlework, knitting, quilting, acting, designing etc. To me this is their way of expressing themselves and why should I push my views? Of course in my own mind I may toss around some thoughts.

    Reply
  25. Wonderful posting which gave me a glimpse into the various ways writer’s try to improve. I am not a writer except for letters to friends. When I had to write something important I would let my husband read it – just for typos and sentence structure – but he always would smile and tell me “it needs some tweaking” That meant total re-write which never sounded like me.
    In my jobs as a nurse, business owner, and other shorter jobs, I never had to critique creativity. In nursing – yes I had to do evaluations of my staff. I hated doing these except if they were doing a great job and I had no negative things to say.
    I would find critiquing someone’s creativity would be difficult – that goes for stories, art, pottery, needlework, knitting, quilting, acting, designing etc. To me this is their way of expressing themselves and why should I push my views? Of course in my own mind I may toss around some thoughts.

    Reply
  26. I have participated in a few critique sessions and have had my work read by other writers, but as others here have said, I’ve found I’m better off working on my own. Not that I think I’m so great, maybe just easily sidetracked or confused, lol! I love brainstorming, though. Interesting post.

    Reply
  27. I have participated in a few critique sessions and have had my work read by other writers, but as others here have said, I’ve found I’m better off working on my own. Not that I think I’m so great, maybe just easily sidetracked or confused, lol! I love brainstorming, though. Interesting post.

    Reply
  28. I have participated in a few critique sessions and have had my work read by other writers, but as others here have said, I’ve found I’m better off working on my own. Not that I think I’m so great, maybe just easily sidetracked or confused, lol! I love brainstorming, though. Interesting post.

    Reply
  29. I have participated in a few critique sessions and have had my work read by other writers, but as others here have said, I’ve found I’m better off working on my own. Not that I think I’m so great, maybe just easily sidetracked or confused, lol! I love brainstorming, though. Interesting post.

    Reply
  30. I have participated in a few critique sessions and have had my work read by other writers, but as others here have said, I’ve found I’m better off working on my own. Not that I think I’m so great, maybe just easily sidetracked or confused, lol! I love brainstorming, though. Interesting post.

    Reply
  31. Anne, it sounds like your first group was the absolutely WORST kind of critique group! The sort that can kill creativity forever. Your second group is the sort of positive writers group that really, really works. Maybe you should try rounding them up again? *G*

    Reply
  32. Anne, it sounds like your first group was the absolutely WORST kind of critique group! The sort that can kill creativity forever. Your second group is the sort of positive writers group that really, really works. Maybe you should try rounding them up again? *G*

    Reply
  33. Anne, it sounds like your first group was the absolutely WORST kind of critique group! The sort that can kill creativity forever. Your second group is the sort of positive writers group that really, really works. Maybe you should try rounding them up again? *G*

    Reply
  34. Anne, it sounds like your first group was the absolutely WORST kind of critique group! The sort that can kill creativity forever. Your second group is the sort of positive writers group that really, really works. Maybe you should try rounding them up again? *G*

    Reply
  35. Anne, it sounds like your first group was the absolutely WORST kind of critique group! The sort that can kill creativity forever. Your second group is the sort of positive writers group that really, really works. Maybe you should try rounding them up again? *G*

    Reply
  36. Kathy, I’m happy to have expanded your TBR pile–living in Maine, you risk being snowed in and possibly running out of books. The horror! *G*
    Finding a good support group is so valuable. With the publishing landscape changing so much, maybe we all need to work harder at finding and creating retreats and support groups.

    Reply
  37. Kathy, I’m happy to have expanded your TBR pile–living in Maine, you risk being snowed in and possibly running out of books. The horror! *G*
    Finding a good support group is so valuable. With the publishing landscape changing so much, maybe we all need to work harder at finding and creating retreats and support groups.

    Reply
  38. Kathy, I’m happy to have expanded your TBR pile–living in Maine, you risk being snowed in and possibly running out of books. The horror! *G*
    Finding a good support group is so valuable. With the publishing landscape changing so much, maybe we all need to work harder at finding and creating retreats and support groups.

    Reply
  39. Kathy, I’m happy to have expanded your TBR pile–living in Maine, you risk being snowed in and possibly running out of books. The horror! *G*
    Finding a good support group is so valuable. With the publishing landscape changing so much, maybe we all need to work harder at finding and creating retreats and support groups.

    Reply
  40. Kathy, I’m happy to have expanded your TBR pile–living in Maine, you risk being snowed in and possibly running out of books. The horror! *G*
    Finding a good support group is so valuable. With the publishing landscape changing so much, maybe we all need to work harder at finding and creating retreats and support groups.

    Reply
  41. Quantum, my sister married into academia so I’ve observed those sorts of professional meeting at second hand, and they’re great. Clearly the kind of meeting you describe is equally stimulating and valuable to scientists hanging out.
    Yes, there are lots of books and courses on creative writing. I think that creativity has to be innate, but the courses can help people harness what creativity they have. I think most people have at least some creativity, which can be in a vast numbers of form. I also think that becoming a writer is a near-universal fantasy of the literate, so that creates a willing audience for those books and courses. *G*

    Reply
  42. Quantum, my sister married into academia so I’ve observed those sorts of professional meeting at second hand, and they’re great. Clearly the kind of meeting you describe is equally stimulating and valuable to scientists hanging out.
    Yes, there are lots of books and courses on creative writing. I think that creativity has to be innate, but the courses can help people harness what creativity they have. I think most people have at least some creativity, which can be in a vast numbers of form. I also think that becoming a writer is a near-universal fantasy of the literate, so that creates a willing audience for those books and courses. *G*

    Reply
  43. Quantum, my sister married into academia so I’ve observed those sorts of professional meeting at second hand, and they’re great. Clearly the kind of meeting you describe is equally stimulating and valuable to scientists hanging out.
    Yes, there are lots of books and courses on creative writing. I think that creativity has to be innate, but the courses can help people harness what creativity they have. I think most people have at least some creativity, which can be in a vast numbers of form. I also think that becoming a writer is a near-universal fantasy of the literate, so that creates a willing audience for those books and courses. *G*

    Reply
  44. Quantum, my sister married into academia so I’ve observed those sorts of professional meeting at second hand, and they’re great. Clearly the kind of meeting you describe is equally stimulating and valuable to scientists hanging out.
    Yes, there are lots of books and courses on creative writing. I think that creativity has to be innate, but the courses can help people harness what creativity they have. I think most people have at least some creativity, which can be in a vast numbers of form. I also think that becoming a writer is a near-universal fantasy of the literate, so that creates a willing audience for those books and courses. *G*

    Reply
  45. Quantum, my sister married into academia so I’ve observed those sorts of professional meeting at second hand, and they’re great. Clearly the kind of meeting you describe is equally stimulating and valuable to scientists hanging out.
    Yes, there are lots of books and courses on creative writing. I think that creativity has to be innate, but the courses can help people harness what creativity they have. I think most people have at least some creativity, which can be in a vast numbers of form. I also think that becoming a writer is a near-universal fantasy of the literate, so that creates a willing audience for those books and courses. *G*

    Reply
  46. Margot, privately pondering thoughts is allowed. I don’t know that writers so much judge each other’s creativity as specific creative suggestions, which is somewhat easier. Someone might float an idea that clashes with what has already happened in a story, so something will have to give. A professional writer generally needs to develop an open mind and a tough skin in order to get the most from interacting with peers.
    Evaluating employees’ job performance is REALLY hard because it gets into personal relationships. I don’t envy you! But it is important to maintain your own voice. Your husband might be a very good writer, but sometimes you really want to sound like yourself!

    Reply
  47. Margot, privately pondering thoughts is allowed. I don’t know that writers so much judge each other’s creativity as specific creative suggestions, which is somewhat easier. Someone might float an idea that clashes with what has already happened in a story, so something will have to give. A professional writer generally needs to develop an open mind and a tough skin in order to get the most from interacting with peers.
    Evaluating employees’ job performance is REALLY hard because it gets into personal relationships. I don’t envy you! But it is important to maintain your own voice. Your husband might be a very good writer, but sometimes you really want to sound like yourself!

    Reply
  48. Margot, privately pondering thoughts is allowed. I don’t know that writers so much judge each other’s creativity as specific creative suggestions, which is somewhat easier. Someone might float an idea that clashes with what has already happened in a story, so something will have to give. A professional writer generally needs to develop an open mind and a tough skin in order to get the most from interacting with peers.
    Evaluating employees’ job performance is REALLY hard because it gets into personal relationships. I don’t envy you! But it is important to maintain your own voice. Your husband might be a very good writer, but sometimes you really want to sound like yourself!

    Reply
  49. Margot, privately pondering thoughts is allowed. I don’t know that writers so much judge each other’s creativity as specific creative suggestions, which is somewhat easier. Someone might float an idea that clashes with what has already happened in a story, so something will have to give. A professional writer generally needs to develop an open mind and a tough skin in order to get the most from interacting with peers.
    Evaluating employees’ job performance is REALLY hard because it gets into personal relationships. I don’t envy you! But it is important to maintain your own voice. Your husband might be a very good writer, but sometimes you really want to sound like yourself!

    Reply
  50. Margot, privately pondering thoughts is allowed. I don’t know that writers so much judge each other’s creativity as specific creative suggestions, which is somewhat easier. Someone might float an idea that clashes with what has already happened in a story, so something will have to give. A professional writer generally needs to develop an open mind and a tough skin in order to get the most from interacting with peers.
    Evaluating employees’ job performance is REALLY hard because it gets into personal relationships. I don’t envy you! But it is important to maintain your own voice. Your husband might be a very good writer, but sometimes you really want to sound like yourself!

    Reply
  51. Lucy, as you’ve noted, critiquing and brainstorming are very different. If your intuition is saying to follow your own path through a story, listen to that intuition! It’s our individual voices that make our stories memorable.

    Reply
  52. Lucy, as you’ve noted, critiquing and brainstorming are very different. If your intuition is saying to follow your own path through a story, listen to that intuition! It’s our individual voices that make our stories memorable.

    Reply
  53. Lucy, as you’ve noted, critiquing and brainstorming are very different. If your intuition is saying to follow your own path through a story, listen to that intuition! It’s our individual voices that make our stories memorable.

    Reply
  54. Lucy, as you’ve noted, critiquing and brainstorming are very different. If your intuition is saying to follow your own path through a story, listen to that intuition! It’s our individual voices that make our stories memorable.

    Reply
  55. Lucy, as you’ve noted, critiquing and brainstorming are very different. If your intuition is saying to follow your own path through a story, listen to that intuition! It’s our individual voices that make our stories memorable.

    Reply
  56. What an intriguing post, Mary Jo. I think that being a good critique partner must take some serious skills. When I read something, I generally can point out errors in spelling, punctuation, and the like. I can also tell if something is not working FOR ME. What is near impossible for me is to evaluate WHY something is not working and to suggest changes that might be productive!

    Reply
  57. What an intriguing post, Mary Jo. I think that being a good critique partner must take some serious skills. When I read something, I generally can point out errors in spelling, punctuation, and the like. I can also tell if something is not working FOR ME. What is near impossible for me is to evaluate WHY something is not working and to suggest changes that might be productive!

    Reply
  58. What an intriguing post, Mary Jo. I think that being a good critique partner must take some serious skills. When I read something, I generally can point out errors in spelling, punctuation, and the like. I can also tell if something is not working FOR ME. What is near impossible for me is to evaluate WHY something is not working and to suggest changes that might be productive!

    Reply
  59. What an intriguing post, Mary Jo. I think that being a good critique partner must take some serious skills. When I read something, I generally can point out errors in spelling, punctuation, and the like. I can also tell if something is not working FOR ME. What is near impossible for me is to evaluate WHY something is not working and to suggest changes that might be productive!

    Reply
  60. What an intriguing post, Mary Jo. I think that being a good critique partner must take some serious skills. When I read something, I generally can point out errors in spelling, punctuation, and the like. I can also tell if something is not working FOR ME. What is near impossible for me is to evaluate WHY something is not working and to suggest changes that might be productive!

    Reply
  61. This is a very fascinating post. I’ve not written books, just articles for several newsletters. I would always try to have a friend of mine read them and tell me what he thought. At first he would find quite a few things that really needed to be straightened out but over time, I got better and tightened up what I wrote.
    There would be suggested changes but I didn’t always go with what he said because it needed to be written in my “voice” not his.
    He did tell me when he thought I’d done a good job besides pointing out what he thought needed to be changed. In return, I’d review/critique his articles. My friend would grumble when I would say, my eye stumbled here because he knew a change was needed even though the end result would be better. (giggle)
    Essentially we were doing what Joanna Maitland and her critique partner were doing.
    Plus we’d brainstorm when he would get stuck or he couldn’t come up with a good way to tie the end of the article back to the beginning of the article.
    I can tell when something sounds “right” or even wrong but not exactly why it is wrong grammatically! It was fun except he was a total last minute pantster who would put off writing his articles until hours before the deadline…

    Reply
  62. This is a very fascinating post. I’ve not written books, just articles for several newsletters. I would always try to have a friend of mine read them and tell me what he thought. At first he would find quite a few things that really needed to be straightened out but over time, I got better and tightened up what I wrote.
    There would be suggested changes but I didn’t always go with what he said because it needed to be written in my “voice” not his.
    He did tell me when he thought I’d done a good job besides pointing out what he thought needed to be changed. In return, I’d review/critique his articles. My friend would grumble when I would say, my eye stumbled here because he knew a change was needed even though the end result would be better. (giggle)
    Essentially we were doing what Joanna Maitland and her critique partner were doing.
    Plus we’d brainstorm when he would get stuck or he couldn’t come up with a good way to tie the end of the article back to the beginning of the article.
    I can tell when something sounds “right” or even wrong but not exactly why it is wrong grammatically! It was fun except he was a total last minute pantster who would put off writing his articles until hours before the deadline…

    Reply
  63. This is a very fascinating post. I’ve not written books, just articles for several newsletters. I would always try to have a friend of mine read them and tell me what he thought. At first he would find quite a few things that really needed to be straightened out but over time, I got better and tightened up what I wrote.
    There would be suggested changes but I didn’t always go with what he said because it needed to be written in my “voice” not his.
    He did tell me when he thought I’d done a good job besides pointing out what he thought needed to be changed. In return, I’d review/critique his articles. My friend would grumble when I would say, my eye stumbled here because he knew a change was needed even though the end result would be better. (giggle)
    Essentially we were doing what Joanna Maitland and her critique partner were doing.
    Plus we’d brainstorm when he would get stuck or he couldn’t come up with a good way to tie the end of the article back to the beginning of the article.
    I can tell when something sounds “right” or even wrong but not exactly why it is wrong grammatically! It was fun except he was a total last minute pantster who would put off writing his articles until hours before the deadline…

    Reply
  64. This is a very fascinating post. I’ve not written books, just articles for several newsletters. I would always try to have a friend of mine read them and tell me what he thought. At first he would find quite a few things that really needed to be straightened out but over time, I got better and tightened up what I wrote.
    There would be suggested changes but I didn’t always go with what he said because it needed to be written in my “voice” not his.
    He did tell me when he thought I’d done a good job besides pointing out what he thought needed to be changed. In return, I’d review/critique his articles. My friend would grumble when I would say, my eye stumbled here because he knew a change was needed even though the end result would be better. (giggle)
    Essentially we were doing what Joanna Maitland and her critique partner were doing.
    Plus we’d brainstorm when he would get stuck or he couldn’t come up with a good way to tie the end of the article back to the beginning of the article.
    I can tell when something sounds “right” or even wrong but not exactly why it is wrong grammatically! It was fun except he was a total last minute pantster who would put off writing his articles until hours before the deadline…

    Reply
  65. This is a very fascinating post. I’ve not written books, just articles for several newsletters. I would always try to have a friend of mine read them and tell me what he thought. At first he would find quite a few things that really needed to be straightened out but over time, I got better and tightened up what I wrote.
    There would be suggested changes but I didn’t always go with what he said because it needed to be written in my “voice” not his.
    He did tell me when he thought I’d done a good job besides pointing out what he thought needed to be changed. In return, I’d review/critique his articles. My friend would grumble when I would say, my eye stumbled here because he knew a change was needed even though the end result would be better. (giggle)
    Essentially we were doing what Joanna Maitland and her critique partner were doing.
    Plus we’d brainstorm when he would get stuck or he couldn’t come up with a good way to tie the end of the article back to the beginning of the article.
    I can tell when something sounds “right” or even wrong but not exactly why it is wrong grammatically! It was fun except he was a total last minute pantster who would put off writing his articles until hours before the deadline…

    Reply

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