When you take the first steps from being a casual writer-for-fun to a ‘I want to get published’ writer, one of the first pieces of advice you read is:
- Join the SCBWI
- Join your local critique group
If you’re anything like me, 2) is pretty scary. Meeting new people? Anxiety-inducing. Putting your work out there to experienced writers? Quite frankly, terrifying.
I made that leap, and I’m here to tell you that you should too.
Firstly, no matter how much you polish and edit a manuscript, a fresh pair of experienced eyes is ALWAYS going to come up with things you didn’t think of. A critique can and will elevate your manuscript to the next level. I have submitted manuscripts I’ve been happy with and ended up with manuscripts that are objectively better. The feedback you receive will make you a better writer.
Secondly, it hopefully will give you confidence. Hearing nice comments about my writing and feeling that my submission does not particularly stand out as being a turd among the roses definitely gives me a much needed boost among all the agent rejections.
Thirdly, being part of a writing community is invaluable. From the general feeling of support, to picking up tips, to hearing about upcoming courses and competitions, you will gain so much from being among fellow writers.
Fourthly, it looks good on your writing CV and shows you take it seriously.
Lastly, it’s quite good fun. It turns out I quite enjoy reading and taking an analytical approach to manuscripts, and the critique sessions themselves are always relaxed and enjoyable.
If you’re serious about writing – take that step. You won’t regret it.