Writing Critique Group Experiences

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Writing critique groups can be helpful for writers. Writers get to share their work with others and obtain creative criticism. In return they critique what others have written. These types of groups tend to work best when everyone contributes and the criticism is constructive. We asked our readers about writing critique groups.

We asked, "Have you ever been a part of a writing critique group? If so, how beneficial was the experience?"

Here is what our readers had to say:

I belonged to an Internet group which critiqued short stories. About 120 people belonged, though only 30-40 made regular comments. For about a year, I found it helpful, then left to work on my own material full-time.

Lou Allin
Ontario, Canada
I was part of a writing group in college. However, it was a small group with limited talent and experience to draw on. Still, having others read and critique my work was very helpful in finding those spots where I left things assumed that I knew, but the reader didn't.

Andrew W Applegarth
Manhattan, KS
I've never been part of an "official" writing critique group. I write with a partner -- that works best for me.

John Atkins
Albuquerque, NM
I've been in several groups. We found you must hand out materials ahead of time to be critiqued. Reading aloud did not work for us.

Robin Bayne
Lutherville, MD
I have been part of two writer's groups that had monthly critique sessions. One was very professional and offered good suggestions. The other seemed to think critique meant finding fault. I currently belong to three on-line critique groups. Most members are beginning writers so I am doing more reading than submitting. That helps me spot those "beginner mistakes" that creep into my own work. Even a bad experience in a critique group can be turned around and used for improvement.

Judy Bouchard
Nokomis, FL
Extremely useful to get a chance to hear what other people hear, to be shown the small inconsistencies, to be reminded of the things you know you should have fixed, to hear when they like it.

Mary J. Breen
Ontario, Canada
I have and have always come away with a better sense of direction. Sometimes having someone critique your work helps you see things you wouldn't see otherwise because you're the creator of the piece. An outside opinion helps to give some new perspective, whether its positive or negative feedback.

Tina Casalino
San Jose, CA

Yes Not very beneficial. It was a creative writing group and everyone was too nice.

Carolyn Cates
Greenville, SC
Have not been a part of a writing critique group except in college english course. Experience was not that beneficial.

Gail Cooper
Cupertino, CA
Yes, in my college English class last semester we had writing critique groups. I think they helped me a lot wiht my grammar and usage.

Holly Courtney
Portsmouth, VA
I'm a member of the Harvard Square Scriptwriters' Group. The experience has been terrific in helping me to look at my work as well as others' more objectively. I recommend that every writer get that sort of feedback, though, learn to protect one's process at teh same time.

A J Dimaculangan
Cambridge, MA
Writing critique groups can be very helpful. They provide a fresh perspective on work your work which you can be come so close to you can't be objective. Critiquing the work of others also allows you to return to your own work with a eye for criticism.

Stephanie Douglass
Redwood City, CA
Yes, I was in two writing groups while in college, one for fiction, one for poetry. The poetry group was very helpful, the fiction much less so; this was probably because I had been writing poetry for a longer time period.

George Downing
Marlborough, NH
No, I have not been a part of a writing critique group. Writers are a vain and egocentric lot and tend to over-rate their own work and disparage the work of other writers, especially if they are more successful or prosperous. In this I am no exception. All my favorite authors have been dead for centuries. I am not interested in what other writers think of my work, nor do I take the slightest bit of interest in their literary effusions. Every writer thinks that he is a genius while his contemporaries are over-rated dunces and mediocrities. It is also my view that writers and writing today are too tame and timid; they accept the status quo too easily, conform shamelessly and write whatever they think will sell or be popular. Where are you, Thoreau, now that we need you? To my fellow contemporary writers who have anything of value to say I say: Say what you think, regardless of popular opinion; write what you want, however unmarketable, and get your living in some other way. There are too many hacks and literary prostitutes around today; don't become another one of them. Write what you like and like what you write. The rest will come later. Remember what Schopenhauer sad:"Nothing is to be had for gold but mediocrity."

Charles Edelman
Los Angeles, CA
For approximately 4 weeks I belonged to an online critique group that met once a week. Critiquing three stories/articles of varying length each week took too much of my time as an active writer.

Joy V. Formy-Duval
Southport, NC
Yes, to several. most were rewarding, two were chit-chats. The internet is a wonderful tool for learning writing or any other subject.

Charles Gorman
Orlando, FL
Yes, I was with NovelAdvice. It was indeed very eneficial.

Ephraim Glaser
Haifa, Isreal
Yes I have, and it was very beneficial. It was good to have access to others points of view. As well, my group felt vewry comfortable offering and accepting criticism, still realizing that the author only took suggestions under advisement. The only difficulty was with those people who were reluctant to offer any of there own stuff, and I'll admit I was one of them in the beginning. It takes a while for some people to be brave enough to be pinned down for examination, but when its worth the wait its extra rewarding.

Wayne Luke Greening
Newfoundland, Canada
I've been part of a writing critique group only semi-professionally. I find, even on this level, that a group of knowledgeable and open-minded people offer an unparalleled insight into every part of the writing process. So, that very human instinct to feel defensive about an outside opinion is gone and growth results. I like growth. :)

Cynthia Hampton
Loveland, CO
Yes - it was very beneficial, in the sense that the feedback from others' perspectives forced me to "think outside the box" of the work in which I was so deeply immersed. It was also very helpful to read others' work, and have a dialogue in which we shared both the ups and downs of the writing process.

Heather Henderson
Duluth, MN
I found people to be too complimentary and concerned about hurting the feelings of the writer. No one ever really criticized (constructivly or otherwise) the material read.

Marilynne R. Hunt
Sunnyvale, CA
My first critique group was online with 4 other memebers -- 3 of them were great, but one of them was so awful I stopped writing. I have a new online CP and and I can't tell you how helpful it's been. She's noticed little things about continuity, excessive word usage, to big things like unbelievable actions, etc. I think it takes a while to find someone you click with and trust. But once you do, the help is invaluable. I believe in it so strongly that I am now an online CP coorindator for a listserv I belong to!

Bev Huston
B.C., Canada
After wrokshops in University, I facilitated writing groups for ten years and am now a part-time writing teacher for a community college. Very beneficial, to say the least.

Paula Johanson
Yes, and it was very helpful. Sometimes, having the extra set of ears can really bring together an idea that may be a bit unclear to the writer.

Sheri Karan
Glen Rock, PA
I am a member of the National Writers' Consortium. I find being in a writers' group both wonderful and time consuming.

Deborah La Tour
Smithfield, RI
I was part of a writer's group that unfortunately quickly became a coffee klatch. It was fun, but very little writing resulted. That was over ten years ago, a different time, a different "head".

Caryl Leventhal
Brooklyn, NY
Only as an exercise in fiction writing classes. The experience was not at all beneficial, since fellow students were not extremely knowledgeable.

Lynne Maxwell
Rosemont, PA
Yes, it was helpful to hear input from other writers. It also gave me the chance to sharpen my own editing skills.

Patrick McKenna
Chicago IL
It was a few years ago, and was very very beneficial - although it was not always an easy experience. It's hard to be criticized!

Mollie Milesi
Jerusalem, Isreal
Not Very Beneficial, Too many unmanageable egos to deal with, and people do not like to hear the truth.

Catherine Mistrot
Dallas, PA
I took two writing courses in university. Each week, the class would critique 2-3 stories. I think the experience can be very beneficial. You can learn people's honest opinions of your work, and also what the "average person" would like to read or buy.

Nancy Moir
Ontario, Canada
Yes. The experience was great. I recommend that any serious writer join or form a critique group. Beyond writing, it is the quickest way to improve your writing skills.

Ann Newman
Conway, AR
I attended writing critiques workshops for 4 years as a student in college and found the experience to be most rewarding. The workshops not only provided me with the support I needed to concentrate on honing my skills but also allowed me to meet other aspiring writers who offered useful suggestions about my work.

Mary Nguyen
Riverdale, NY
I am part of a writing critique group and I find it very helpful. It has encouraged me to write and revise much more than I would have on my own.

Ioanna Papageorgiou
Athens, Greece
I have been a part of a writing critique group and the experience was not at all beneficial.

Janmarie Pizzanello
West Bridgewater, MA
I am part of a wonderful critique group at the present time. I joined approx 9 months ago and it's the greatest help for new and seasoned writers. How did I ever get along without their help?

RoseAnn Pollum
Chicago, IL
I belonged to a group while in college. I found this to be an incredible experience. Not only was I able to assist the writer being critiqued, I was able to build on my skills and better my own writing.

Tammy Reilly
Santa Fe, NM
Currently, meet w/ a monthly writing group where the members are not only quite perceptive and, thereby, helpful BUT are also quite personable and, thereby, fun to get together w/.

Marilee Smith
Denver, CO
I am currently part of the Novelshop2 discussion group via e-mail. The feedback that I get from subissions in an invaluable tool in helping me build the foundation necessary to improve my writing technique.

Meggie Smith
Ontario, Canada
I currently belong to a Sacramento-based writing club...about 75 members. i do find the monthly meetings, guest speakers, mothly newsletter and library (about 150 books) excellent resources. However, I have not found "the group" to be very instrumental or inspirational to my writing. So members have found a group/clique that have been simpathertic/supportive to their writing efforts. i am still looking for that (tangible) group. Meanwhile, I have found some solice in the online e-mail communities. I think perhaps the anonymity of the e-mail groups makes it easy for people to share their thoughts and writings. Personally, I've never had a problem expressing my feelings or being open -- I've actually found it therapeutic.

John Turner
Citrus Heights, CA
I've been in critique groups for different English classes, and it was helpful in the sense that I was forced to look at my work more critically, and to see where my glaring errors were. As for the creative component... I was on my own.

Mylan Vaugeois
Glen Oaks, NY
I have actually started a writers group and it has become so successful that I've had to expand it and open several new chapters. Everyone seems to benifit for the critiques and many novice writers have become published authors.

Steven Walker
Quakertown, PA
Since leaving town and moving away from my writer's group, my productivity has lessened. Besides the critiquing, I miss the silent expectations to show some progress.

Bob Williams
Dallas, TX
I have been a member of various critique groups, each one has taught me something about myself and my writing abilities.

Sandra Wirfel
Summerhill, PA
I am one of the founding members of the Northeast Mississippi Writer's Forum and we quite often meet for critiques of each other's work. I've always found it very helpful, but then Ive grown a pretty thick skin in 15 years as a newspaper editor.

Ed Woodward
Booneville, MS
Yes. I found the experience quite beneficial and would reccomend it to anyone with aspiriations to write. You will not regret it.

Brian Worthington
Monroe, LA
I just finished taking a creative writing course; our teacher is a great proponent of workshopping our writing groups of 2, 4 and the entire class (20). What a great experience!

Stephanie Yamniuk
Manitoba, Canada