There’s more to being a writer than just writing these days. If you want to do it in some professional capacity (large or small) there’s a lot of business; whether that be promotion, dealing with agents and publishers, or just following the market. And then there’s that business of being able to take a look at your work objectively.
There’s a lot to be said for crit groups but I think as you develop as a writer, the criticism that you need changes. I’ve found the members of a group often outgrow each other as they hone their skills and follow their chosen paths. And as a result, crit groups can often provide diminishing returns.
I think that criticism is important as part of the process of writing a book and so I’m in the process of forming a hand-picked crit group.
The idea is that aside from critting work, we also share some of the business side of things. A group committed to the success of all.
The real challenge is creating a group so that if one person gets a deal and ‘hops over the fence’ it doesn’t all fall apart. That’s a challenge and is mostly down to the people. You want people who believe in your work but won’t just backslap all the time – a mutual appreciation society doesn’t help anyone. Instead you want people who will absolutely let you know when something doesn’t work. People who will push you but totally understand your direction and can explain to you in a shared language of genre. People who are artistic enough to produce work you believe in but also understand the business side of writing.
I’m excited about this plan and it’s still very much in its infancy. At the end of the day, books still need to be written and all this does is supplement it. But it feels like the foundation of something very real and very strong.