I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a good writing group is the key to continued success and inspiration!
That’s quite easy for me to say. I’m in a great writing group. One with people who treat writing as a profession and a craft. I won’t say they are the most bare knuckles critiquers, but that’s ok. They’re strong enough and hard enough for my needs. Even when I don’t read my own work, I get a lot out of listening to theirs and moving my brain into that gear of writerly thought as opposed to “my story” thinking.
What do I mean by that? One can become blind to writing as craft and become caught up in emotional ties to your work. Those are vital, those heart strings tethering you to a tale that is bursting from your soul. But if you’d like someone else to see those words and understand that story, you need outside eyes. Whether it’s the basic error of seeing a scene clearly in your mind but not actually getting it all as crisply onto the page or the larger pitfall of becoming so certain of a thing in your adventure that you can’t see the forest for the trees or the larger plot for that subplot you just really love. A writing group can help with all of the above.
There are groups that meet in person as well as online groups. There are ways to seek out a critique partner rather than have the opinions of several people muddy your resolve or your plot map. Most of them are free or cost a only small amount, like a donation to a library group or a membership fee. And despite the fact I seek freelance editing from some consultancies, I’d recommend trying a group or partner before dishing out the dosh for an expensive feedback package as I think these are the most worthwhile once you’ve polished things a little and completed at least one or two manuscripts.
I know there are people out there who don’t like to share their works-in-progress and there are reasons for it that are completely sound. But if you’ve never shared your work with anyone save the agents you are querying and that isn’t going well, I strongly suggest sharing your work with someone who doesn’t know you but has experience reading or hearing drafts. That’s not a song and dance sell for my own services! Try someone else first, please. Because an editor who is busy isn’t going to take on your rough draft and if they do, they’re sadly most likely to be far more interested in your purse string than your hearts strings.