My Crit Group is P90X for My Book

Jul 16, 2010

This week, I started the P90x exercise program. We have a date for it to kick my butt from 6 to 7 a.m. every morning. I love that it makes me feel energized and in charge of my body. I hate that I've spent the last three days in perpetual pain. But I know it'll be worth it when, at the end of 90 days, I'm significantly less flabby and weak.

On Wednesday, I hauled my sore butt to critique group, just like every week. I listened, taking diligent notes as they carefully shredded my chapter. I cringed to see it treated thus, but I loved the clarity that came from hearing the group's reactions. You see, right now, Devs is feeling awfully weak and flabby. I didn't know exactly why, or how to fix it. Then, while musing on their comments on the drive home, I had an epiphany. I knew exactly what was wrong. I knew exactly how to fix it. It includes much tearing up of major plot lines and other seriously huge changes. I'm pretty excited about it.

That's when I realized, my crit group is like P90X for my book. Just like the workout rips up my muscles to make them stronger, my crit group rips apart my book to make it better. We're a hard-core, all-truth kind of group-- one that helps me find the flab and weakness in my book. Not that we're mean. They didn't beat me up last night. They just point out the flaws so I can work them out. In fact, I've learned more about how to be a better writer in the several months I've been part of this group than I have in all the years I wrote in my lonely cave. And I love them for it.

So, tell me friends. Do you have a crit group or partner? Why do you love them/hate them (hopefully you don't hate them)? How have they changed or helped your writing?

P.S. Chersti and Rachel, two of my group members, have blogs too! Go check them out.


Emily White said...

I love P90X.

I have a great beta! She's tough on me, but I love her for it. She's like a shot of adrenaline to my muse.

Angie said...

Great job on the exercise and the writing! It's good that your crit group works so well for you.

Michelle Merrill said...

I love my really small, really awesome crit group. I'm not sure two people make a group, but I hope my group would never treat me less than severe. Without the honest opinion and tearing apart all you would see is a piece of coal when the diamond is within...although, I've yet to really see a diamond in my writing, at least it shines a little more with each critique.

Shallee said...

@Emily I love P90X too. Sometimes. I'm glad you've got such a great beta!

@Angie- Thanks! They really were an amazing find.

@Michelle- Thanks, friend. :) And never fear, you've got some shiny spots in your stuff!

Anonymous said...

*hugs* Of course we weren't mean to you, we softened the blow(s) with chocolate cake! :)

Don't worry, we're harsh because we love it. If we hated it, we would just sit there and stare. I'm really excited to see the changes you make!!

Joel said...

No pain, no gain, that's how the saying goes, and it is very, very true. I'm glad we could shed some light on your novel. I've had the same "Ouch" moments with the group, and expect to have many more! :-D

Annie said...

Shallee--do you mind me asking about your critique group? Are they in Provo?

Anonymous said...

I love my crit group. They are so helpful with their detailed critiques. I want my chapters shredded. They don't read every single chapter, but I find that when I learn something from them, I apply it to the rest of the piece.

Shallee said...

@Rachel- Yes, and it sure was delicious chocolate cake! :) Hopefully I'll have something written in the next to weeks to bring.

@Joel- That's so true. I can't wait for more of those moments!

@Annie- Yes, we're all around the Provo area. There's five of us, and we meet once a week and critique one chapter from everyone.

@Medeia- I'm glad your group is what you need! I apply things to the whole piece as well-- it's amazing how much better my whole story gets from just one chapter critique.

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