Sitting in a room with a friendly group of writers is an energizing experience. There’s laughter and support. You can see and hear their reactions to your work. You may get obsessed with reading body language. Did she really mean that positive comment? Then why did she touch her nose? Is he bored? He keeps coughing while I read! But for all the insecurities, it’s a lot of fun.
But sometimes, in-person groups fizzle. Life happens. Not everyone is equally committed or always able to attend. Some may be in multiple groups.
Other times in an in-person group, the conversation goes off-topic and before you know it, the session is over.
Classes or workshops are more structured, but they can be costly, and you have no say in when and where they meet.
I had been in an online crit group in the past, and had also taken some online writing classes. I GAVE much better feedback in writing, after having time to carefully read and compose comments. Also, the feedback I received were from people who also had time to read before commenting, and could edit comments. This is the biggest difference.
After I moved, I had trouble finding an in-person group, so I started an online picture group, setting it up as a Yahoo group. We agreed to post every two weeks. Someone made nifty folders to upload files to, so everyone has their own, (which I find comforting, like a cubby in elementary school).
I love that I can get feedback, and I really enjoy writing crits, too. It keeps me on my game. I love to see the stories develop. Our members are spread all over the country. Even in states so remote I never thought I’d know anybody from!
It’s comforting to know that like minds are a click away. Whether in the same room or in cyberspace, a crit group takes on a life of its own.
It’s nice now and then to do writing prompts, talk shop, or get to know each other. Subscribing to each other’s blogs is a good idea.
There’s a bit less group discussion in the online group than there would be in person, but there’s more focus. I can’t say which is better. It’s certainly more convenient to meet online, and nothing beats having copies of a story with written comments from everyone, something usually hard to get in in-person groups. Also, I had specified the group was advanced and crits would be in-depth, to increase engagement and commitment. In other groups I have been in, people’s participation really varied, but online it’s much more even and there’s more commitment I think. One’s mind is involved, no one can be there physically but not mentally (even I used to be like that in person at times!).
Next, maybe I should start an online illustration critique group!
If you’re interested in getting a picture book critique, see my critiques page.