Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Critique Grouping

I'm having difficulty finding my place in the critique world, though I've been invited to many.

These are my concerns: I am a stay-at-home mother of 4 kidlets. I only have 4 half-day school time when I'm completely alone. I edit then. As soon as I tuck my kids into bed, I try to edit then until 11:30 pm. I've been working on Rockstar since January and am barely on chapter 10. Eeep! I've been doing my best and it's so slow going. Ugh.

Okay, here's my problem: Seeing that every spare moment I have to get my WIP edited, how can I squeeze in 10 pages per 5 people (in a crit group) a total of 50 pages on top of my own a week? every 2 weeks? a month? How?

I have no problem free-lance editing for friends. A chapter here. A book there. But if it's steady and involves a deadline, I am struggling!

How do you do it?

PS--today my son turns 11, yippee!


  1. Happy birthday to your son!

    I simply can't fit it all in, so I am afraid I am short on constructive suggestions!

  2. Depends on the deadline's I guess and then prioritising sensibly - don't take on more than you can :) And always tell people if you just can't do it. Better than waiting for months *grin*

  3. Happy birthday to your son!! Eleven!!! Wow!!!

    Good luck with finding a happy medium between editing your WIP and group critiquing!! Maybe if you just have one/two max critique partner(s)? Or limit the word count to be critiqued???

    Good luck!!

    Take care

  4. Yeah, the balancing act is a struggle. I, too, have 4 kidlets (ooh, I love that non-word). It's not easy. Mine are getting older now (7, 11, 13, & 17). When the baby finally started school, I figured I would be more productive. *shrug* Not sure if I truly am. The older they get, the more homework, more activities, etc...and a social life, which is a whole new ball of wax. The issues really do get bigger as they do.

    I basically set daily and weekly goals, but don't beat myself anymore for not sticking with one or two. I get up extra early and blog (like this), I write/edit while they are at school, and I beta/edit others' work while sitting with the fam at night. I've only been writing seriously for two years and blogging for about 9 months, but the one thing I've realized is if I expect all that out of myself I need to take a break every-so-often. LOL

    BTW, I hopped over from Marcy's blog. Just started following you. Nice blog. And, I noticed you have a pluggy for Tamara and Perilous. I'm part of her blog tour in Nov. & Dec. I can't wait!!

  5. OMGosh...I have to make just one more comment. I noticed Marcy's bookmarks. Aren't they awesome. She was my first critique parter (and still is, although we don't chat as regularly as we did). Kind of funny, seeing what you posted about today.

  6. I have nothing useful to say because I'm exactly in the same place. lol

  7. Happy Birthday to your kidlet!

    Sadly, I can't offer any great advice for you except that life is about seasons. This one is a tough one but it is only a season. Soon enough, a bit more of your time will open up and you'll have different options. Be patient and kind with yourself and it will start to work out. Hang in there, Lizzie. *hugs*

  8. I hear you on this one. For some reason, I think I write better during the summer months. I'm a night person and this allows for me to stay up as late as I want when it comes to writing/rewriting/critiquing other work. I have a WIP that requires a lot of research, but it's been very hard for me just to get to that research book I need to be reading. It's a juggling act, but somewhere, somehow it's always good to have that critique group.

  9. First things first, yay for eleven!

    Second, I can't think of any way to suggest you fit all that in, it's a lot! I think the trick might be to look at a differnet sort of critique group. You might want to look at something like Critters, where you can pick your own pace ( or pick your own CP at a matchmaking site like the one set up by the ladies at LTWF ( )

  10. Well, obviously, if you want feedback you need to pay the price. I usually spend an hour on each piece I need to critique.
    When I'm pressed for time I pick and choose which pieces I critique based on how much useful feedback I can provide. If it's way out of my genre, I don't do much.
    Another thing is to not worry about line edits/grammar and just think about the characters and plot. Let other people worry about that. :)

  11. Happy B'days. And I hear you on not having time.

  12. I have test readers, but so far I've not critiqued anyone else's work. I'd have no idea where to cram it into my day!

  13. My group meets at the home of who is "tied down," so to speak, and we reduce the amount of pages depending on the number in the group. With a steady four of us, we share about ten pages - six or less if more show up. Maybe your group could meet at your place?

    I hear you about your editing and "slow-going." I've had that same problem all year. As for advice, I'd do what I can and bring it to critique, whether ten pages or one. Either way, it's progress ;)

  14. Hi, Al. lol, we should create a club for that.

    Nicole, so true. That sounds like great advice! Thank you! :)

    Hi, Jennifer! That's a great idea, I'll have to hardwire my brain and live by it. Thanks for the valuable advice. <3

    Salarsen, it's amazing how our lives adjust with the ages our kidlets experience, isn't it? There's always something new around the corner. How exciting! I can't wait to read your review for Perilous. I do love Marcy's bookmarks! You're so cute! I'm heading over to check your blog soon! <3

    Hello, C.N. Lol. I guess it's just trial and error until we find ourselves, hu? Wish us luck! :)

  15. I guess if you have already run your WIP past a critique group and you have all the useful feedback you need from your audience, then perhaps you don't need a critique group. If you enjoy an evening away from your kidlets in meaninful conversation with friends and treats, then maybe a critique group is good for you.

    I agree that line-by-line editing is not what a critique group is for. Too often we get hung up on the commas when the paragraphs are a mess. Or even bigger, when the plot is entirely missing or the characters are beyond sympathy. I think big-picture responses are much more valuable than "You forgot a comma here." Maybe if you read for those larger responses you don't have to spend as much time.

    I usually spend about an hour total per week reading all the submissions. For me the big value is that having a critique group motivates me to keep writing. Its also nice to see adult friends.

  16. Laura! Hi! You're so sweet. You're right. I do need to be patient with the things I can do and try what I can and do what 'feels' right according to my heart. Thanks for the advice! <3

    Mary, true. Summer time is bittersweet. Late nights and good, unrushed mornings. I'm trying out a critique group. I hope it fits in with the things I'm already doing. one thing at a time, right? :D

    Amie--wow! I didn't think of that. Hmmm, I'll have to really think on that and see what fits for me. Thank you! :)

    Andrew, so true about helping others so that I can get help, too. You know, I didn't think about doing the characters and plot. Line edit is so tedious, really. Thanks for the epiphany insight!

    Em-Musing--it's a wild ride, isn't it? Ugh...

    Alex--it's crazy, I like where you're at, it's simple and uncrazy. Lol...

    David, thank you for your ideas. It sounds great about do what I can. I appreciate your input. :)

  17. Brock, wonderfully said. I'm such a detail oriented person, I'd need to step away from the line-by-line approach and focus on the macro-level of things. Thank you for sharing! :)

  18. Happy birthday to your son. My daughter was 11 this summer.

    I only have 2 kidlets to cater for but I feel your pain. The simple answer is that I don't manage my time too well. I either have time for writing, or for critiquing, or for some other project like the pirate ship I'm working on, but not all together. So I go through writing cycles, followed by critiquing cycles while my own work is going through the mill. For me, the Critique Circle online workshop seems to work well because the reciprocity is much looser and I'm not tied into tight deadlines in the same way as being part of a close-knit circle. I can critique when I have time, or leave it for a while.

  19. Botanist--thank you for your thoughts. I like the sound of your critique circle. Right now I feel so frustrated because I can't quite make up my mind. I agree with Brock, but then, I don't know. I feel as if its one more thing on my plate, really. I feel as if I'm going to snap.

    I'm kinda like Alex, I have lots of ready readers for my work and, boy, do I help others crit with their work when they need it. It's something I surely need to reallhy think about it.

    Thank you!!!

  20. My writer's group is pretty darned unorthadox and I suppose I've been REALLY lucky in that I am most proliffic and there hasn't BEEN a ton at once from the other members. Because I RECEIVE the most, feedback wise, I always feel obligated when other's need a read, but the only time there has ever been a back-up was after NaNoWriMo last year because two of them finished full books at once.

    But this is what I've learned... FIRST BOOK (or maybe first in each new genre), you may want chapter level critiques, but after that, you want feedback at more a book level (unless you are writing literary fiction, which I would assume is far pickier), so maybe find a group of people mixed in where they are, that fewer of the members NEED regular feedback--I am guessing it would be easier to fit in a whole book every couple months than chapters from 5 people ever single month)--I know for me that is the case--I have good months and bad months because of my own deadlines--In August I did 3 novels because I was just TYPING my own (no brain necessary)--but those were all big, broad feedback, not nitpicky, line item... HONESTLY though--you don't need word level, line item feedback until the whole thing is done and has had the giant edit/rewrite. It is a waste of everybody's time because much of it will change ANYWAY.--BROAD feedback--do you like my characters, understand their motivation, is the plot making sense--is much faster... just a read and answer the questions--what struck you right and wrong...

    I think if you have a bunch of one-on-one readers, you really don't need the group at all.

  21. I would find it hard. My days are my own, but would still struggle. I help one or two writing buddies, but would find it difficult with a group.

    Belated wishes to your son. My middle child, D1 is 29 today. Time flies, my baby will be 27 in three weeks and my eldest is 31 in Feb.

  22. Hi, Hart... Wow, it's funny that there's always something to learn despite how long I've been writing and learning rules and stuff. I really appreciate your feedback. It does make sense about what you said regarding word editing because it will all be changed anyway. *HUGS*

    Thanks for the epiphany (sometimes I need to have someone give me a wake-up slap, and I appreciate every one here who've helped!)

    Glynis, I understand how, now matter what stage we find ourselves in our lives, it adjusts accordingly and we still must find balances. I'm so happy that your children are well, you sound like a great mom! Thanks for the wishes! <3

  23. It's hard to juggle it all. My Critique group does more meeting to motivate, and inspire, than it does actual editing. We focus on major aspect of storyline, and plot. Maybe you could find a group that is not heavy on the editing side?

    Mormons Rock!:)

  24. Mat, hi! Wow, how nice it is of you to have one such as that. Is it an online group? Are you in Utah? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and following me!


  25. Elizabeth, I had that same problem with too many crit groups. That's why I ended up dropping them. Instead I have a few close writing friends who are my Beta readers. Ana is one of them. :) When I feel the need for a *fresh* perspective from someone who doesn't know me or my writing, I ask around author websites and find one or two people to *trade* WIPs with. This method works much better for me.

    I also suggest that you wait until your crit partner finishes your entire MS before you try to tackle editing. Trying to edit your own work AND crit for someone at the same time while waiting for them to get to your next chapter can really throw you off, and requires too much energy. Focus on one thing at a time.

  26. I wish I had good advice for you, but I'm in the same boat. I don't always make it. Sometimes I think I have to give in and let the mountain collapse on me. But I just take it one day at a time and hope I survive the climb!

    Good luck getting it figured out. If you find the secret recipe, send it my way!


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