Critique partners are valuable to any writer. I’ve spoken a lot before about reasons to seek feedback and reasons to have a critique partner. But I’ve never really spoken about how to find somebody in the first place. So here’s so advice:
Connect with other writers
This is the first step. A critique partner is somebody you share work with, and exchange feedback. So connecting with other writers is really the only way you’re going to do this. But how do you connect with writers? Do some research and find out if there are any writing groups or creative writing workshops in your area. You’ll meet people with the same passion, and who may be at a similar stage of their writing journey. Alternatively, join the online writing community. Through blogs like this, or on social media, you’ll find thousands of writers, all looking for support and giving it out in return.
Interact and take interest
It’s one thing to follow a load of writers on social media platforms, but to find a critique partner you’re going to need to get to know some people. So interact. If they post something that interests you, or you find amusing, let them know. Start a conversation, take interest in the things they do and the words they’ve written. It’s the best way to find out who you click with on a personal level, and you feel you can trust with your words and stories.
As well as finding out who you get on with, it can be helpful to find people with an interest in your genre. It could be that they write in the same genre as you, or simply that they enjoy that genre as reading material. This ensures that you’ll get helpful feedback, but also ensures that your critique partner will not find your story difficult to connect with. So ask around, find out what they’re writing, what they enjoy, what they’ve written before. It’s all important, and also sparks insightful and meaningful conversations.
When getting to know another writer, be genuine. Don’t fake an interest in order to get somebody on your side. Trusting somebody with your work, and being trusted in return, requires honesty and mutual respect. Likewise, be genuine in your feedback. Point out mistakes, plot holes or areas that need strengthening. Be honest about the parts you loved, your emotions while reading and give feedback that is insightful, truthful and helpful. That’s what you’d want in return, and so it’s what you should offer.
Are any writers simply just writers? Everyone you connect with will, like yourself, have other interests and commitments. They might be parents, students, have jobs, run a household, spend time in other hobbies. Essentially, be patient. Everybody works at their own pace. When waiting for feedback, don’t put your critique partner under pressure. It’s okay to have a deadline if it’s necessary, but make it realistic and be understanding if it’s not possible for the other person. If you’re lucky, and meet writers you really get on with, they could be your critique partners for…well…life! So be kind, don’t be demanding, and be patient if they need a break or delay.
Big shout out to all critique partners, with huge love to K.M. Allan and Lorraine Ambers who consistently support me. I got lucky to find these, and hope this blog post helps other writers find people just as wonderful.
Tell me about your critique partner(s)!
And until then,