Writing good stories is like raising good kids, they never happen by accident. Someone has
to invest a lot of time and effort in the project to achieve an award-winning result.
How many times have you thought you’d written the next bestseller only to take it to your critique group meeting and have them mop the floor with you? I’ve done it more times than I can count. Yet, every Tuesday night I print out a chapter and set off for another grueling round of iron-sharpening-iron.
Why do I put myself through this torture?
The same reason actors perfer to rehearse in closed rehearsals. Their mistakes can be made in the safety of a learning environment.
Trusted writing partners have only my best interest at heart. I’d rather hear what’s NOT working with my story in the comfort of someone’s cozy living room than have the flaws plastered all over an Amazon review.
True writing friends are not here to tell me I’m wonderful. They’re job is to make me a better writer. I’ll admit, crits can sting. But I’ve learned to consider their points and to think through why something tripped them up. Their suggestions challenge me to ratchet up the tension here or find a fresh way to drive my point home there.
Are you writing in secret?
Don’t do what I did. I wrote my first 400 page novel without letting anyone take a peek. When I finally summoned enough courage to submit the book to an editor, I received this terse response in eight minutes: I’m sorry, your writing does not measure up to the standards of our publishing house.
What did I learn? Don’t submit another thing until you get some help, girlfriend. I needed a group that would challenge, yet encourage a pleaser like me to continue in this often brutal and solitary calling.
Fortunately, I found a constructive writing group. And humbly submitting to the process reinvented my writing.
When I consider what each of the members of our writing group bring to the table, I’m reminded of how women used to gather around a well or quilting frame. In the safety of that circle, they helped each other raise their families, withstand the hard times, and make the world a better place.
What if writers did the same today?