I spent a very productive evening last night at the SCBWI Westside Schmooze in Santa Monica. It was picture book critique night. The leaders broke us into groups of 7. Each group critiqued 5 manuscripts and spent about 15 minutes on each manuscript. I originally planned to attend only to critique, not ready with my latest project yet. However, a friend of mine who attended with me, convinced me to bring something else I had completed recently.
I am forever grateful to this friend. The constructive criticism and support received was well worth any anxiety or nervousness I had about sharing my work. I was given helpful, reassuring feedback that will help me polish my manuscript. I also gained some confidence and energy about my work that I didn’t have before. There is something about having your work read out loud, (and hopefully have people like it and tell you that), that is character building and soul bearing at the same time. Every time I participate in a critiquing exercise, I am reminded of this and how essential it is to the writing process.
As writers, we work in isolation much of the time. These gatherings are opportunities to improve our work, while building social connections and support systems. They give us validation that what we are writing matters and that we can write well. I am off to search the SCBWI Critique Connections online database so that I can form a group to keep last night’s exercise part of my regular writing practice. If you are in the South Bay or Los Angeles area and want to take part in an on-line or in-person group, give me a shout.