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Writers converging on Whistler

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The number and format of a critique group can take many variations. I have been a member of critique groups ranging from two members to a hundred, groups that “met” online every week, and others that met every three weeks in the leader’s living room.

My writing has improved through receiving critiques, critiquing other writers’ work, and listening to the feedback given to other writers. We also share resources — tips we’ve learned from writing workshops, good books on writing, examples from great fiction, and tips on getting published.

What I like best about my current group is the professionalism and hard work everyone puts into giving feedback. Everyone in the group loves writing, and wants each other to succeed. Giving — and receiving — feedback takes practice. It is important to let the writer know specific areas that need work without making the writer feel attacked. Writers receiving feedback need to learn to listen and be ready to make changes — otherwise why bother bringing your work in the first place?

On Sept. 13 at the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, Pam Barnsley and I will share some of the tips about giving feedback that we’ve been lucky enough to learn through our critique group. In Feedback Blitz – How to Give and Receive Feedback, we’ll discuss tips for what to look for when giving feedback and how to receive feedback and use it (or not) in your revision. We’ll also give tips on how to create a critique group, and will be available to help any interested writers get started with creating one.

Writers coming to the session are encouraged to bring a short piece of writing — up to two pages — in order for us to practise giving and receiving feedback in a friendly atmosphere. If you don’t have anything ready for critique that’s okay, come and practise giving feedback.

One of the goals of the Vicious Circle is to be an umbrella organization to support smaller critique groups. We now have one working critique group and are working with a few interested people to start a second group. We hope that any writers out there interested in joining a critique group will attend the Feedback Blitz session.

How do you know if you’re ready to be part of a critique group? All you need is to be willing to work at your writing and to spend time giving honest feedback to the other members of your group. Writing is a learning process that never ends. By learning to give and receive feedback you’ll be tuned in to areas in which your writing can grow that you might never have seen otherwise, and soon you’ll have that piece polished and ready to send to your favourite publisher.

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