The Pros and Cons of Critique Groups

critique groups

Critique groups have somewhat dissolved over the years as online formats for sharing writing have become more accessible. However, they still play an important role in the process of writing for publication. Sadly, some can cause more harm than good – here are the pro’s and con’s to consider before joining one. 

What are Critique Groups? 

A critique group is a group of writers who are looking for peer support through the constructive criticism of their written pieces. There are often guidelines and/or procedures for participating in a critique group that may include having already been published, limited work to a specific genre(s), page count limits (including the font type, size, margins, etc.), and frequency of sharing and/or critiques. It is important to remember that any valid critique group will follow guidelines allowing for true constructive criticisms. Critiques are not about shaming or degrading authors.  

The Pros and Cons of Critique Groups 

Pro: Critique groups often are made up of people from many different backgrounds, creating a mini cross-section of society. This diversity brings more insight into what you have written. Without the critique group, you may have not had access to such diversity. You never know who may be helping you become a better writer with their insight. Someone who understands a particular character’s struggle first hand, ethnic sensitivities, you may even have a previously published writer reviewing your manuscript. 

Con: This may also mean that you have inexperienced writers reviewing your work who won’t catch errors. The diverse group may also include someone really doesn’t like or understand your style or genre. Lack of understanding and/or the dislike of a specific writing style tends to make one too harsh to offer value, or they may even be completely ineffective as a reader. 

Pro: Critique groups are generally inexpensive to join. Often times a free group can be found quite easily. 

Con: Attendance can be irregular at best. What this means for you the writer is someone who took your submission at the last meeting may not be at the next meeting to give feedback. Allowing the manuscript to be read at the meeting is a way some groups have squelched this problem. I, however, don’t feel this gives the reader enough time with the work to really dive in. I found hearing someone read their work made it harder for me to critique. This is probably the case for anyone who is a visual, as opposed to an auditory, learner. This lack of attendance can also mean a reader may only be seeing your chapters out of order, only creating more chaos. 

Con: In regards to online critique groups, I find many readers don’t fulfill their requirements. This leads to an imbalance as you, the reader, end up doing more critiques than you yourself are receiving. Then, of the feedback you do receive, you often find readers who are unhelpful in their feedback and/or the process takes so long at times you question if it’s worth it. 

So, What’s the Solution? 

There is no cut and dry answer to this. The solution depends on your desired outcome. If you are wanting a critique group, as yourself why. Make a list of what you want to get out of it and then look specifically for those things – you’d be surprised what you find online when you are really clear. It may mean working with a professional, attending a workshop or signing up for a class. There are also online forums, but again, make sure they match your desired outcome and don’t have you spending all your time critiquing other’s work rather than working on your own project. 

Because I have found some writing groups to be more harm than good, I decided to put together a writing group that takes all the best components of a critique group and leaves out the harsh and ineffective feedback process. Contact me HERE to learn more. 

Are You a Fearful Writer? 5 Ways to Overcome It

fearful writer

One of the biggest fears most writers have is that of being rejected. Any fear can be paralyzing, but when it comes to having your writing criticized or rejected, it can be an incredibly vulnerable experience, creating a feeling of grief, and consequently, even more fear. I’ve seen several types of fearful writers, the following being some of the most common. And, let me just say, I have experienced all of these fears at some point in my writing career, so know I am in no place to judge, these are just my observations. 

The Closeted Writer 

This fearful writer is identified when they say “I only write for myself”. Now, if they are simply those who journal as a therapeutic or meditative practice, that is different than someone with fear of sharing their writing. 

Fearful writers often tell me of their numerous story ideas. These ideas frequently are started, but remain unfinished, many times simply because the author lacks direction. They know where to start, but not where to go from there. They dismiss their writing as insignificant, but often have the most important stories to tell. I believe these writers have been judged, rejected or criticized in the past and have become frozen. They don’t give themselves permission to develop their writing skills, nor seek out ways to share their work or ideas. This is a shame because their stories will die with them. 

To overcome closeted writing, consider sharing your work with a writing professional known for both kindness and honesty. Kindness will safely allow you to share your ideas and build your skills without judgment; and honesty will help you to build confidence in knowing what you are doing matters. 

The Unsure Writer 

This type of fear is similar to the closeted writer, the difference is they may call themselves writers and may even have posted their work online, or submitted it for contests or publication. They, like the closeted writer, generally have low confidence in what they’ve written and are looking for outside affirmation and validation of their skills. The unsure writer will often say, “Only a few people have read my writing and they say it is good.” 

The Unsure Writer gets positive feedback on their writing, but hesitates when it comes to letting more people see it. As opposed to being hurt in the past, I believe this fearful writer type is lacking courage to really put themselves out there. Even though they may have experienced success, the fear of failure hangs over them. 

Attending some open mic nights to hear others share their work publicly can help you to build your confidence if you are an unsure writer. You don’t need to share yours, but consider sharing one day in order to build up your courage and self-esteem. Getting outside affirmation will also help you to recognize value in your work. 

The F* You Writer 

These are usually the most creative, and also most belligerent writers! They post what they write, but it is still mostly just for themselves as they don’t care what others think, including those who could offer valuable feedback to make the writing better. They like to challenge writing “rules” and put their own unique flair on writing. While playing with writing expressions, unique styles can often be overlooked as literary junk, rendering the writer frustrated, critiqued and ignored. This type can be ego-centric, but they too may have been hurt in the past by critique. 

To overcome this fearful writer type, be open to feedback and learning more about writing, taking what you find valuable to improve and letting go of the rest. It is hard to have your thoughts critiqued, so this can be a process. You will most likely experience a lot of frustration when first allowing your work to be openly critiqued. But you must remember most constructive criticism is just that, constructive. It is all about helping you, not upsetting or hurting you. 

The Torn Down Writer 

If a writer says, “I wrote it, I shared it, and it got picked apart. I won’t do that again!” they are a Torn Down writer. Sadly, this fear is one that stops writers from writing. These are writers who did put themselves out there and rather than being met with positive support, were tore down. This can happen as a form of online bullying, in a critique group that is not constructive, or even in a poorly managed writing class. This writer will often give up entirely, no longer writing, or becoming a closeted writer. 

Overcoming this may take some time. Just like falling off a bike, brushing off, and getting back on and trying again, you too must take a chance. Be more discerning in who you share your work with, and consider a coach and/or public forum like an open mic. 


As a writing coach, I help writers overcome their fears by gently reviewing their content while also offering support. I want to allow writers to become even better writers, who can and will share their work with others with confidence. I offer a variety of support services to help you meet your goals. Schedule a free consultation and share your fears with me, I can help you become the kind of writer you want to be.