Friday, February 21, 2014

Blogging over Lunch & Writing Groups:

Blogging over lunch makes great sense to me. Writers need to squeeze every ounce of time out of their day and this is a great way to make good use of my time. For one thing, it limits how much time I spend blogging, which is not a bad thing. The other benefit is that I will need to be an efficient blogger if I am going to limit my time to the lunch hour. So here I go: I chair a writer's group in Omaha, Nebraska-a good one too. We call ourselves the Omaha NightWriters, and we are as diverse as any writing group in the country. We cover all ages, all genres, and most importantly, all walks of life. Some of us are traditionally published, some self-published, but every one of our members is talented and capable of delighting readers. What I have discovered in the last seven years of chairing this group is invaluable. I have gained industry contacts, new friends, a great source of critiques, but most of all, I have gained tremendous knowledge. I am a far better writer today than I was when I wrote my first novel. The reason? Honest critiques, delivered with respect, and my best interest in mind. I tell budding writers to find a writers group as fast as they can. It matters not who the members are, as long as they are nurturing. However, if your members are only interested in making themselves look good at your expense, throw them out. There is no room for prima donnas in critique groups. Our critique group has both hard rules, and soft guidelines. The hard rules deal with respecting the author as a person. There is a proper way to criticize another’s work without tearing them apart. The idea is to make them conscious of ways to improve their writing, while making them anxious to try new ideas and techniques. The soft guidelines deal with the structure of administering a critique. It gives the person delivering the critique ideas as to what they should look for in the author’s excerpt. I have refined our rules and guidelines over a period of time, and they work. Most of our members have been with the group from the beginning. I appreciate all they have taught me about my craft, and I hope I have given them something of value as well. If you are considering a critique group, and I highly recommend that every writer belong to one, I would be happy to send you our guidelines. Just respond to this blog, and I will send them to you.