Boy, do I LOVEEEE my crit group, aka “The Critters.” If you are a serious writer and you are not included in something as magical as a crit group, then GET TO IT! I cannot tell you how many times this has saved my buttocks. (Side note: I love the word “buttocks”).
Crit groups help you to see so many things with different eyes and different points of views. Just yesterday, I got a comment back from one of my Critters and after processing the comment, I was all like, “Whoa. I TOTALLY didn’t see it that way!” It’s so amazing how different we all are and how differently we read things. Our senses of humor, points of view, and life experiences really shape the way we read.
I will be humble and admit how naive I was when I thought everyone would read the page the same way I read it. And if MY words were being read by the group, I thought they would all see how amazing everything was on the page. RUDE AWAKENING! But it’s feedback that is so important to your writing process.
I come from a film school background and so I’m used to getting my ass torn apart in critiques. Every time I would finish a video short and show it to the class, I remember my stomach clinching in knots, anticipating what others would think about it. Sometimes the feedback was pretty harsh. Sometimes I left the class feeling like I sucked. But you know what? I didn’t suck. And their feedback only made my storytelling better. I could even go as far to say, it is what has gotten me to this point in my creative life. It’s invaluable.
When I started writing, I totally forgot that this type of ‘tough love’ could be applied to all art forms. I guess I was still stuck in video art world. Being back in a crit group that comments on my writing gives me that same crazy feeling I had in film school: nervousness about what my readers will think, and at the same time, exhilaration in knowing I will make this thing better.