Q: What does this mean for those who are still interested in joining a critique group but couldn't make those meetings?
A: We need more groups!
Q: How do more groups form?
A: We need people willing to lead!
Q: What does leading a critique group involve?
A: More than anything, a willingness to facilitate, which involves making sure things stay on track at meetings and keeping the people in the group updated on group procedure. A critique group leader must be an FWA member. The first responsibilities are to arrange a meeting time, place, and duration. Other decisions must be made as well, such as how critiques will be done (electronically or printouts) and how much writing will be critiqued at a time (word count limits, page count limits, etc.).
Q: If I've never led a critique group before, how can I possibly be qualified?
A: If you're an FWA members who is willing to volunteer in this capacity, you are qualified.
Q: I feel inadequate to lead a critique group, but I want to be in one. What do I do?
A: There are other critique groups in the St. Pete area (Pinellas Writers, St. Pete Writers Club) so be sure to check those out. But also, think about volunteering to start a new group because maybe there are many people wanting a critique group who are too afraid to lead, but if you're willing to lead, they'll step up and join your group!
Q: I might be willing to lead a new critique group. Is it scary?
A: Not at all! Most writers who want to be in a critique group are serious about improving their writing skills just like you. The hardest part is just figuring out all those initial details (meeting time/place/etc) and once that's established, it's all about the writing and the critiquing.
Q: That's the part that scares me: the critiquing. What if people get upset about critiques that are sent, and I'm stuck in the middle as the leader?
A: I have a lot of experience leading a critique group, including problem-solving, so I'd be happy to share my insights with you. The first rule I recommend for every critique group is to make sure the group participants make positive comments, not just critical ones. Positive comments go a long way to making a person feel like the critique is not a personal attack. That said, it's not the purpose of a critique group to make people feel good about their writing. The purpose is to help writers improve their craft with feedback from fellow writers. Comments should always be constructive, not harsh or demeaning. When these rules for the group are stated up front, it's usually enough to prevent the scenario mentioned in the question.
Q: I have more questions. Who can I ask?
A: Contact me (Bria) by emailing email@example.com