Periodically I hear from former students who are wondering how to find critique partners. Often, they’ve tried SCBWI but found there’s a long waiting list. Or they were in a critique group that formed out of one of my classes but it faded over time or never got off the ground. And so they’re all alone.
“I remember you well talking about the need as a writer for connection with other writers,” a former student wrote me recently. “I just don’t have it, and have been discouraged enough to consider giving up altogether.”
If you’ve taken one of my classes, you’ve heard me say it: a critique group is the single most important thing you can do for your career as a writer. In addition to the feedback you’ll get on your work, a critique group gives you a community, helps you stay motivated, and provides you with deadlines and expectations.I myself am in three different critique groups, each of which is focused on a different genre. These groups both kick my butt and soothe my soul and I would be a much poorer — not to mention lonelier — writer without them. Critique groups don’t need to be big — even a single critique partner can do the trick.
But how do you find them?
I’ve pondered the way to match people up for some time and in the end decided to borrow an idea from Maggie Stiefvater, who matchmakes critique groups for YA writers once a year. The method is simple. If you are interested in forming a critique partnership, post your Want Ad in the comment section below. Here’s the information you should include:
- A one sentence description of who you are and what you’re working on.
- A geographic location (because your online critique group could be an in-person critique group).
- Three picture books that you love or that have influenced you as a writer.
- A way for an interested critique partner to get in touch with you.
If you see someone who seems like a good match, contact them. If the interest is mutual, then you should each send the other a picture book manuscript to be critiqued. That is your trial run. If you’re happy with how it went, you’ve got a partner. If anything about the exchange didn’t work for you, then the trial period is over and you can simply thank your partner and walk away.
Oh, and make sure to check out my information about How To Form An Online Critique Group.