I love those little donuts covered with powdered sugar, but I don’t want to be cleaning their dust off my blue jeans when I’m taking part in a critique session. That sort of thing happens during the let’s-have-coffee-and-chat break at the average face-to-face critique group for writers, doesn’t it?
I prefer an on-line critique group. All right, I confess. My computer keyboard has crumbs in it. My preference for donuts isn’t the only reason I don’t participate in a face-to-face group. I could list a dozen, but my mouth’s full at the moment. Let me quote a group of writers who participate in my favorite on-line organization — The Internet Writing Workshop .
- “I can drop in on a discussion any time of day or night. It’s not like a face-to-face group where you have a scheduled time and place, then have limited time to critique and be critiqued.”
- “You meet people from all over the world who share their writing experience and training.”
- “On-line suits my peripatetic lifestyle. With the advent of lap tops and wi-fi I can read and write wherever and stay in touch forever. “
- “It is as anonymous as you wish it to be. Share only as much of who you are as you feel comfortable doing.”
- “You don’t have to dress up to participate, nor do you have to worry about the traffic to reach the group on time.”
The IWW operates via email. It’s comprised of multiple critique lists — fiction, nonfiction, novels, poetry, prose, young adult, practice, and teen writing — plus a general list discussing writing. The genre lists generally are restricted to submission and critique postings only and have participation requirements.
The IWW is free. It is not fee-based. Instead it operates by a practical application of the Golden Rule. Offer plenty of critiques, offer your best critiques, and you’ll find your submissions receive intelligent, thoughtful critiques of your own submissions.
Additionally, it operates under the auspices of efficient and effective moderators. The supervision isn’t overbearing, but flamers are booted immediately and lurkers are removed.
The IWW is one of the more prominent and professional organizations on the Internet. And it can boast a list of participants who have had significant publishing success. Few of us can write without learning from authentic and productive criticism. The IWW is where I find writers who will tell me the truth about the quality of my work.
You can find details about The Internet Writing Workshop here: http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/.
Gary Presley http://GaryPresley.com/ is an essayist whose work has been published in Salon.com, Notre Dame Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and several other venues. His memoir, Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio, was published in 2008 by The University of Iowa Press.