All in Good Time

I am the unofficial time keeper of the Wordsmiths. At each meeting, usually after we pray, I am handed a small stop watch upon which I dutifully register 20 minutes. Once a member begins her discussion/reading, I start the timer.

Why do we set a time limit? First of all, we need boundaries. Eight women gathering together after having not seen one another in a month can talk up a storm very easily. If we didn’t set some type of limit, we’d never get anything accomplished.

Secondly, we want to be fair. Our meetings last four hours. Some of us travel great distances; a few have children or grandchildren to pick up from school. Giving each member a 20 minute limit allows us to hear everyone’s manuscripts in a fair amount of time and still have room for food, fellowship, and fun before we have to leave for home.

It helps that we have a maximum of ten pages of writing that we can bring. Twenty minutes is usually a perfect amount to read and discuss a person’s work.

What happens if someone goes over? The timer starts beeping and the member tries to close up quickly. If we are in the middle of a really intense piece, we will allow some flexibility as long as we have the minutes to spare; but we really try to be considerate all around.

Perhaps your group could benefit from keeping time. It has helped us to stay focused and be better organized while still having lots of fun.

Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio

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4 responses to “All in Good Time

  1. Sherri Crawford

    After reading your practical post this morning, I realized that our meetings never feel like four hours! Have you noticed that? It’s so enjoyable and that makes the time go by so quickly. It’s Hopefully other critique groups will find our time guidelines very helpful. Great job!
    Sherri

  2. gloriastockstill

    Since I am one who has to hit the freeway before the horrible afternoon traffic, I appreciate the time allotment idea. I don’t have to miss reading anyone’s manuscript or them reading mine. I recommend it to all critique groups.

    Gloria

  3. I appreciate the time-keeping too. It seems like plenty of time for what we need to accomplish. I haven’t felt short-changed by the amount of time. I must say though, I have felt kind of slow with my comments. It’s helpful for me to be among the pros–the Wordsmiths. Already I’m learning that I don’t have to go over every word with a fine-toothed comb. After all, my fellow writers aren’t asking me to re-write it for them! One or two comments are o.k.; and encouraging one another is helpful too.

  4. Catherine, I really appreciate the gentle way you remind us that our time is running out. I feel that our 20 minute slots work well — and knowing that there is a time limit helps us get down to the business at hand. Thanks for an excellent post that is sure to be useful to other groups.

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