Tag Archives: feedback

looking for front stabbers


Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You trust someone, and then you’re stabbed in the back. Hurts, doesn’t it? Ever thought of inviting someone to stab you in the front? Sure, that’d hurt too. But it’d be a constructive versus destructive brand of pain. Okay okay, I know that sounds strange, maybe even a little creepy, but please stick with me for a few more sentences, and I’ll explain as best I can.

See, even though writing by its nature is a solo sport, that doesn’t mean you can’t invite others to join your team. By others, I mean other writers who can give constructive criticism–aka stab you in the front, to hit you where it hurts most–right in your writing.

Losing weight, staying on track with an exercise regime, even cleaning out the garage, are all easier if you have at least one person to come alongside you support, encourage–maybe even push–you. Why should writing be any different? If you’re frustrated with your lack of progress, either in term of pages or improvement, consider opening yourself up to a good, ol’ fashioned front stab.

[At least] three things are certain:

1. Someone pushing you without your permission will only make you want to push back.

2. You need to ask someone to hold you accountable. Nobody volunteers for that job, but most people will say yes if you invite them, especially if you’re willing to reciprocate.

3. You will make better and faster progress with accountability and input, than you will without it.

This is why I am so grateful for my critique group. They’re a friendly bunch of front stabbers who want me to become a better writer and I’m happy to help them do the same.

If you feel stuck with your writing, let me encourage you seek out your own critique group (ask around on Facebook, via your SCBWI chapter list serve or your local library). If a group isn’t already in place, start one. And remember, you don’t have to let geography limit you. Online critique groups can work very well and can include writers from all over the planet, if you like. (I suggest keeping your group Earth-bound. Anything beyond that can get too complicated.) If joining/starting a group sounds like too long of a leap, consider partnering with another writer and setting up a regular schedule for exchanging pages.

Connecting with other writers for criticism and accountability will make a positive difference for you. I promise.

G’head. Take a stab at it.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Psalm 27:17

My thanks to Ben Redmond, Director of Student Ministries at the Hub, for inspiring this post. He’s a wise man.

top 3 reasons why critique groups rock


writing frogs
Why oh why did I wait so long? I wish I’d jumped into a critique group ages ago. But I’m so glad I took the leap!

My top three reasons why critique groups rock . . .

1. Critique group members hold you accountable.
I won’t lie. As much as I love writing, I truly need deadlines to keep me moving at a steady pace. I’m too good at “writing” excuses for myself. Those excuses greedily gobble up my writing opportunities, in favor of oftentimes less honorable enterprises (like watching TV. Ugh!) Knowing my critique group is ready to give me feedback, in exchange for merely meeting my deadline, motivates me to better align my priorities and quit twiddling around already.

2. Critique groups encourage you.
Writing is tough enough. When you add the pursuit of publication to equation, with its inevitable rejections, the process can be pretty painful. Being part of a gang of empathetic travelers who are uniquely equipped to offer roadside assistance when your tires are punctured or shredded is such a perk. More like a perk on steroids. It’s amazing.

3. Critique group keep you honest.
When you go solo, it’s easy to get a tad delusional. Speaking for myself, it’s easy to fall in love with the rhythm of my own words. My critique group helps me to “de-precious” my work. With their help, I can face it in a cool, objective light. Just like all green things, including my budding manuscript, light is essential for growth. If I leave my manuscript buried under a rock, it’ll be safe alright, but there’s no room for growth in a dark place. I say arm your critique group with lanterns, flashlights filled with lithium batteries and torches. You may need to wear shades to your next meeting, but it’s worth it.

Are you still group-less? Let Frog on a Dime encourage you to hop in! What are you “wading” for? (Oh, great. I know my critique group is going to bust me for the bad puns!) Let this article from Harold Underdown’s “The Purple Crayon” site help you get a jump on it.

One last thing . . . my warmest thanks to Monica, Jennifer, Cathy, Kris, David and Mindy. You’re the reasons why our group rocks!

Criticism is the windows and chandeliers of art: it illuminates the enveloping darkness in which art might otherwise rest only vaguely discernible, and perhaps altogether unseen. ~ American drama critic and editor George Jean Nathan