The Value of a Critique Group

The Value of a Critique Group

One of the best ways to improve your writing is by getting feedback from others. Writing is a form of communication. It doesn’t matter what the writer means. It only matters what the reader understands. Grammatically clean writing gives a sense of professionalism. A strong hook keeps the reader reading. And tight writing, with clear and concise words, communicates effectively. 

But having others read your work and give input can be intimidating. Sometimes it can be hard to hear suggestions. However, remembering the goal of our writing, to glorify God through the written word, helps to give perspective. I pray before I read the critiques from others and ask God to give me a heart to receive feedback. 

I remember when I first joined a local library group; the other members were kind in their comments, but on my way home tears fell because the others were more experienced. I felt like I wasn’t a good writer. I knew in my head they were trying to help me improve, but my heart felt like I’d shown my newborn baby to the world and they thought it was ugly. Since then, I’ve learned feedback isn’t someone rejecting my baby. Rather, it’s more like someone suggesting I change the color of the baby’s sweater so it matches the rest of the outfit. 

Critiques aren’t reflective of someone’s character; rather, they are a growth opportunity. It’s important not to let feedback define you as a person. You have great value and worth in God’s eyes and nothing will change that. Remember feedback is just suggestions. You are the author, and you have the freedom to make the changes or not. Relax and enjoy the process. You don’t know what you don’t know. Choose to learn as you go.

There are many ways to receive feedback. There are local critique groups, or you can ask friends and family, and COMPEL members can join online critique groups. People often think they need to be an experienced writer to critique work. But wherever you are in your writing journey, your critiques are valuable. Readers can also offer their suggestions and ideas, and share what is working or not working for them. It is helpful for a writer to know what a reader is thinking. 

When offering feedback, it is helpful to remember the goal is to offer positive encouragement and constructive criticism with a heart of gentleness and kindness to help a fellow writer grow and develop writing skills.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “… iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV). 

When offering feedback, I pray and ask God to give me wisdom. Then I include one polish point and two praise points. There is wisdom in thinking about critiquing as a sandwich. The difficult thing we share is the meat. This is cushioned by two pieces of bread, which are the things we notice someone is doing well. Don’t shy away from pointing out what’s not working. However, when offering constructive criticism, offer suggestions on how to fix it, too. Comments should be helpful, never destructive or negative.

By Nancy Beach, COMPEL Training Member 

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COMPEL Training offers every member the opportunity to be involved in a Critique Group, which is a small group of 8-10 women who give feedback each week on each other’s writing pieces. As writers, we learn from not only receiving feedback, but also giving feedback to others!  COMPEL Training registration opens up next week so get on the list to be notified!

Click here for more information!

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Tracie Miles is the Director of COMPEL Training at Proverbs 31 Ministries as well as an author of five bestselling books, including Living Unbroken, Love Life Again, Unsinkable Faith, Stress Less Living and Your Life Still Counts. She is the founder of the Living Unbroken Divorce Recovery Program. Tracie is also a contributing author to the popular Zondervan NIV Women's Devotional Bible and a monthly contributing writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Encouragement for Today daily devotions, which reach over 1.5 million people per day around the globe. Tracie has three grown children and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can connect with Tracie on her blog at www.traciemiles.com as well as on her Facebook author page and Instagram.

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Comments

  1. Kathy Crabtree: July 26, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    I joined a critique group this spring. What a blessing! I’m so humbled that others would take time to read my writing and give me feedback – whether encouragement or suggestions. It has been invaluable. I have also found that reading others writing helps me to grow as a writer as well. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in a Compel Critique group!

  2. Susan Cort Johnson: June 30, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    I participate in a Compel critique group. After I read the comments I can tell if the point of my message came across clearly. One essay I tore apart and reworked with the help of my readers. It was a piece I wanted to enter in a writing contest. The critique made the piece contest ready.