Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Navigating the Critique Partner Want Ads: Where to Find your Critique Partner

We've established that having a critique partner is a good idea and what’s in a critique. We’ve discussed the types of critique partners. But how do you find a critique partner? First, I highly recommend joining a professional writing group. When I decided to take my writing from freelancing to novel writing I joined the Romance Writers of America and the local West Houston RWA Chapter. Now, it’s true that I do not write romance, even though there are romantic elements in my young adult series. But the chapter President of the time, author Kimberly Frost assured me that you don’t have to be a romance writer to join the group. I followed her advice. I joined and it has been one of the best writing career decisions that I have made.

Joining writing groups is all about networking. Whether you are learning from others success or meeting potential mentors or critique partners joining such a group is important to understanding this industry. Coming from the world of dance everyone was so competitive that making true friends was next to impossible. Secretly, your “friends” wanted you to fall and sprang something so they could take you place. This only applied if you were good and should have been seen as the highest compliment. However, I’ve been AMAZED with the people I’ve met in the writing industry. Everyone I’ve met truly seems to be nice and the “real deal.” Yes, it’s taking some getting use to but I urge you to get use to such kindness and take advantage of it.

This blog for example, I’m giving you free advice as is most other writing driven blogs that you read. Join writing groups. Learn from people. Make connections. Take a few online classes. It is from those experiences that you will find your critique partner(s.) I’ve seen sites where you can post requests. There are also loops. My personal opinion, I like to get to know someone before sharing my work.

For a long time I was afraid that sharing my work would result in my ideas being stolen. A mentor/online instructor, Laure Schnebly Campbell (take a class of hers if you haven’t yet) told me that know one could invest the time and energy into writing a 75,000+ plus manuscript if it wasn’t their idea. I struggle enough with my own ideas I could never, successfully take on someone else’s. With that advice I became open to the idea of critique partners and I’ve found the process to be most valuable.

I found my main critique partner at a local Houston (when I lived there) Young Adult/Middle Grade writing group. Rachel is so helpful to my writing and a great resource to bounce ideas off of. Follow her at The Ending Unplanned.

How did you find your critique partner? Are you currently seeking one? Where are you looking?

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  1. I wrote for a long time without a critique partner, then found one on a writer's loop that I really liked. Then all of sudden, without warning, it was like she dropped off the map. I've never heard from her again. I guess you could say that makes me a little wary of getting another critique partner. :)

  2. Great example of a not so good experience Alyssa. I was reluctant to get a CP for a long time. I think it is like any relationship. It takes trust.

  3. I run a writers group in Connecticut. I love doing it. If I couldn't be a full time writer, then I'd honestly love to turn being a writing critique partner and mentor into a full-time job. People have done it and started writing centers, etc, that are incredibly valuable. There is one in Rochester, NY called Writers & Books that is a great resource.