Find Your Tribe
Writing can be a solitary journey. Still, authors looking to publish their work eventually must face good and bad critiques. Generous, polished authors who recall what it was like when starting out may be happy to give constructive feedback. Writers will also encounter internet trolls, anyone who, although they have never written a single line themselves, wants to tell you precisely what is wrong with your work.
That last group is, in itself, a real piece of work.
But the value of a good critique is unmeasurable. To have another writer take time away from their own craft to read and post suggestions, constructive criticisms, and ideas for improvement is pure gold. Unfortunately, many obstacles keep people from finding the group they are comfortable and satisfied with after joining.
Steps to Find a Great Online Group
- Do your research. Some groups have free memberships, and many with paid memberships. Decide by what point you are at in your writing to determine how much cash you want to invest. I recommend starting at the free level and progressing to paid if you are happy with that group.
- Take note of the diversity of genres and particular offerings of the subgroups. Is your genre well represented?
- Study the frequency and timeliness of recent postings, comments, and critiques. If there are gaps of inactivity, you may have wandered into a dead group.
- Determine the general tone of the postings. If one person is doing most of the postings, you may have discovered a group hijacked by, at the least, a troll in training. How do the moderators control the critiques? Is abuse handled in a professional and immediate response?
- Finally, go with your gut. If you love a group, stick with it. Develop relationships with like-minded writers who are honest and helpful in their comments.
I have recently joined my first group, Scribophile, self-described as one of the largest and most active writing groups online. (I have no prior connection to this site, nor received any compensation.) I have liked everything I have seen so far a the free membership level. The basic idea of Scribophile is that it is an online writing group for writers who want to improve their writing. I received welcome posts, possibly from bots, that’s undetermined right now, but I like the premise of earning points in part by reading and critiquing others’ work to post your own. I think this keeps a level of engagement going.
I’ll report on my progress as I experience the site and learn more.
In the meantime, good luck to all those searching for their inner circle!