Writers Critique Groups - Positive Peer Pressure

I just got in from a run. I am a social runner, rarely running alone. I find it is too easy when I’m not meeting anyone to push the time I plan to run to later in the day and then off into tomorrow. Today is gray, cold and dreary. Despite too many holiday goodies and too little exercise, if my friend had not called about running at lunchtime, I would not have gone.

With writing too, I do better with some peer pressure. Originally I joined an online writing critique group to get feedback. And it has been incredibly valuable for that. But the other half of it, is when someone else posts, it reminds you that you are a writer, that you are committed to your work. And… heck… if I had to spend 2 hours critiquing other people’s writing, than I want to get them to review something of mine, which drives me to complete my next writing task.

I’ve see the critique group function at a very high level with everyone submitting something new every 2 – 3 weeks and the vast majority of responses coming in the designated 10 day review time and I’ve seen the group languish and sit idle for months. I’ve raised the rally cry to exhort us to do better and like dieters in January, for a while we manage to do better, but then it fades.

So I’ve been trying to figure out a bit more about how to motivate a group, specifically a critique group. Here off the top of my head are a few observations about the differences between active writing groups and anemic writing groups.

Active writing groups have a manager and/or long-term member who are very active. This sets the tone.

It is hard for a new member who wants to be very active to change the tone and habits of the group. If someone comes in and posts an item for review, if a month goes by and no one else posts, even though it is valid for them to post again, they hesitate.

A manager should push people who are not responding on whether they want to remain in the group. If someone really doesn’t have the time, it is better for the group (and perhaps them) if they recognize this and step aside. Often this is best handled in an individual email.

It’s an art, not a science, as I see by a post from a former critiquing pal, Inky Girl.

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1 Comment

  • At 2009.01.06 05:16, Debbie Ohi said:

    Thanks for the mention. :-) Nice site you have here!

    A motivation idea from my current critiquing group: we all take turns being the Moderator (role changes every 3 months). The Moderator sends out weekly reminders to everyone about whose submissions are coming up, and when current critiques are due. That helps keep everyone involved and also gives us all a little nudge/reminder when it’s time to contribute.

    Good luck!


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