Last Saturday, I attended my critique group, Pinellas Writers, with a mission:
To read and get valuable feedback on a picture book that I wanted to submit to a major publishing house. Ironically, as I read the manuscript I couldn’t stop shaking or sweating. I held the podium until my fingers ached and grew slick with perspiration. It’s ironic because I’m a reading teacher and I spend hours day after day reading to my students, engaging them in discussions, and so much more.
But reading in front of a group of my own peers — some who are much better with the craft of writing than I — and my legs become wet noodles.
One of the protocols for our critique group is for speaking writers to read their work for five minutes. After the five minutes is up, writers may critique the work by giving positive and/or negative feedback. For longer stories, this process doesn’t always work the way I like it. I need more time. My readers need more time to tear apart my work, looking for beauty where it can be salvaged and revealing the rotten parts that need to be ripped out.
And I need more time to pick their brain as to what needs to be done to make the writing better. I’ll share more on this in a later post. I’m very visual and need specific feedback, so I came prepared with copies of the manuscript to help with this. I invited writers to jot down their comments on the manuscript. I received all but one back. Fellow writer said he needed more time. Lol. I hope that he enjoyed what I wrote so much that he wanted to keep it a little longer. 🙂
But I digress. Moving on.
As writers, it’s important that we listen to our words aloud. Do you have to join a critique group to do this? Of course not. Reading and/or recording your work and playing it back is beneficial too. The following quote provides some answers as to why this practice is priceless:
“Writing isn’t just on the page; it’s voices in the reader’s head. Read what you write out loud to someone — anyone — and you will catch all kinds of things.”
Donna Jo Napoli