Do you work with critique partners? How did you find your crit pals, and what influence have they had on your work?
I can't say enough about how important crit partners are to my writing. Neither could Michelle, whose post is here. Margie will post tomorrow.
I found my first crit partner in the same places I used to look for beta readers before I started "meeting" so many writers through blogging. Mostly websites like QueryTracker and Absolute Write. Finding readers there was easy. Finding readers I could trust took some time, but those sites also helped me to hone my query-writing skills, and learn the gentle art of constructive criticism. It wasn't until I'd been blogging a while that I discovered other people had trusted readers, sometimes small groups of them, that they called critique groups. You can probably guess that this was a huge epiphany. ;)
Beta readers are invaluable, especially if they write in the genre you do. But even more important to my creative progress than trusted readers (and i've had quite a few over the years for evangeline. you know who you are and I'm terribly sorry i made you suffer through those horrid early versions. i promise the final version will actually be good, lol) are my amazing critique partners, Abby, Plamena and Jade.
We check in with each other pretty much every week, (mostly thanks to abby, who is the organized one) and offer our services. More than that, we offer an ear--a virtual one, anyway--to vent to, or to cheer each other on. It's nice to know that there are people who care about what's going on with my writing, when others in my life have begun to forget about the faith they once had in my writing career. (you know, non-writer folk, who don't realize what a slow beast publishing is. yes, those people. :P)
So while there's no way I could write without beta readers, there's no way I could function the way I do, and keep myself focused, goal oriented, without my crit group. They know my deadlines, and while they don't call me on them, just knowing that they know helps me stay motivated. And I can be absolutely certain that any comments they give me on my manuscript, or synopsis or queries, are meant honestly, and with my best interest at heart.
Actually, I'm looking for a new beta reader right now for this latest revision of Evangeline (any takers?), and while I'll always need to find new betas (even unabashedly soliciting them through a parenthetical in a blog post), while I'll always need new readers to evaluate my work from a fresh perspective, I'll never outgrow my crit buddies. And I'll never stop valuing their opinion of my writing.
Not only do crit buddies watch your writing change, evolve, they are a direct part of the process. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without them.
Where do you find your crit buddies?