The best thing about my writing life is my critique group. That’s not to say I don’t have a wonderful, supportive family and interested friends. I do. But this group of fellow writers and writer/illustrators do exactly the right things. They offer honesty, intelligence, creative sparks and friendship.
One creative spark is Write Night. We meet once a month, in addition to regular critique meetings, just to do writing exercises. One participant brings enough exercises to keep us off the streets for about two hours. The exercises are difficult. That is essential because it forces us to solve a problem – major or minor – in a work in progress or a work in imagination. Sometimes the problem I solve is one I didn’t realize the manuscript had.
We spend about 20-30 minutes on each exercise. Then we read aloud what we’ve written and comment on the things worth saving.
On some Write Nights, I’m tired or uninspired, and I don’t come away with much other than options that didn’t work. Other nights, I’ll get a line. Sometimes I create a scene. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a voice.
I’m embarrassed to say I don’t have a picture of my critique group that shows all of us in the same place, at the same time. You can find snapshots of various collections of us here and here.
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