How to form and facilitate a critique group (Part 1 of 2)

By Nancy Ward

Author Joanna Penn's edit of her first book. (Flickr Creative Commons)
Author Joanna Penn’s edit of her first book. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Why a critique group?

We all need motivation to persevere. We take time from our writing because we need:

  • Deadlines and accountability. A commitment on the calendar to submit something of ours to other writers helps us become professional.
  • Feedback. This is the basic benefit of a writers group. On our own with no input from other writers, we have little direction and little confidence in our work.
  • Advice. Writers groups are the place to go for all kinds of resources. The Catholic Writers Guild exemplifies this. Be open to sharing what websites, seminars, articles and books help you with your craft and marketing. In both the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers (DFWCW) and the new Catholic Writers Guild Non-fiction Critique/Editing group (CWGCG) we have writers seeking traditional publishers and self-publishing opportunities. Suggestions range from structural changes to lack of clarity as well as format and design ideas. We use the Chicago Manual of Style as our standard.
  • Support and camaraderie. No one can relate to our struggle as a writer like another writer. Although writers groups are not designed as emotional support groups, the community of friendships we form by sharing our writing projects is invaluable both personally and professionally.  It’s vital to keep the critique meeting focused on writing, but once it’s over, we can regroup and meet our writing friends for personal conversation and enjoy leisure time together.
  • Marketing connections. We naturally promote one another’s work on our blogs and social media. We help with book launches, attend book signings and write reviews. We introduce our writing group friends to anyone we know in publishing and marketing such as bookstore owners, radio commentators, newspaper and magazine editors and website columnists.

Types of Writing Groups

How many different ways can people get together in writing groups? There are workshops, critique groups, writers guilds, writers groups and reading groups, each forming a unique community. Annlee Ellingson sorts them all out in Types of Writers Groups.

Giving and Receiving Critiques

Do you ever wonder just how to give a critique or how to receive one? I mean gracefully and honestly! Here’s a link to giving and receiving critiques from  Don’t Forget to Write! A guide to building and maintaining a lasting writers’ group, by D. M. Rosner of 6′ Ferrets Writing Group.

Presented by Nancy HC Ward on 8-1-14 at the 2014 Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference

Don’t miss part 2 of “How to Form and Facilitate a Critique Group: What’s Our Mission?” next week.


Nancy H C WardNancy HC Ward is a Spirit-filled convert, journalist, blogger, published author and speaker. On she shares her Joy in the Lord, her conversion, Catholicism and Christian community in Texas. Find her also on 9 websites, magazines and blogs.


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