Do you feel bored or out of touch with your critique group? Is the energy level low due to the same old same old or overabundance of rejection letters for everyone? Here are some great ideas to increase the energy level, add excitement, and just make your critique group a fun and fantastic group to belong to.
Design a logo. Ask a local artist (or an artistic member of your group) to design a group logo. You can put the logo on T-shirts for everyone to wear or tote bags to carry your stuff. It’s a great way to feel “official” as a writer and as a group.
Write and publish a book together. There are so many inexpensive Print-on-Demand publishers these days that it’s an exciting adventure to write a book together as a group! One of my groups took a year to write our book, Writing To Give God the Glory. One section is instructional about writing. One section is inspirational to encourage a writer’s soul. One section is a showcase to feature selections of our writing. How fun it is to share with family and friends!
Mentor a struggling critique group. If you know of another group that is struggling to stay together, ask if they’d like a mentor. Rotate volunteer members of your group to attend their meetings and share tips on what makes a successful critique group.
Take a field trip! Sign up for a local conference or writer’s event–together! Carpool and just have a day of fun even while you’re learning more about the craft of writing.
Have a potluck. If you always meet at the same place, plan someplace new to meet for the potluck. Enjoy the time together. For added fun, allow time for each member to have a short 1-3 page critique.
Host an event. Some critique groups host huge events such as a conference. Other’s host smaller events such as a contest. Plan it together, man it together, and host it together to build a wonderful new sense of purpose and productivity.
Make a group blog. It’s been so much fun to make a group blog for Wordsmiths, our own critique group. And it’s free, too! We have it set up so that each member in our group of eight writes a new post just twice a month so that it’s very manageable for all.
Explore the same genre together. Recently we took an Alphabet Book Adventure together and all studied the market, wrote our own alphabet book, and critiqued each other’s manuscripts–together! It was so great to expand the project we were each working on by all the wonderful tips and information that each of us was able to bring to the group to share during that time.
Start a club. One of my critique groups hosts the Book In A Month Club. Each year in March we take the zany, crazy challenge and attempt to write the first draft of an entire book in just one month! This year we made it official and took it online at my blog, Blogzone. We invited everyone to join in the fun. Now we have a logo for people’s blogs, a certificate for official members, and more!
So how about it? Don’t settle for a ho hum critique group when you can add sparkle and pizzazz! A critique group should be helpful, but it can also be fun, fun, fun!
-Contributed by Nancy I. Sanders