My Picture Book Critique Group

imagesEach month I meet with my critique group, and I love it. Each of us is working specifically on picture books, and we are all learning a lot about this special area of writing. We hone each other’s work. We cheer each other on. And we grow.

Yet is it so interesting how we often view things in very different ways. One may not understand a sentence. Another might not like the dialogue. The other might choose a different verb. Each of us has a unique perspective, and that can help us and our stories or hinder us, depending on our perspective.

In Ephesians 4:14, Paul says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching.”

What does that mean for us as writers or critiquers or even as editors?

First, we need to be mature enough to set aside our pride and tight ownership of our stories and view them as God’s stories, since He gave us the creativity and, in essence, He owns it all. We need to hold our work lightly and also see other people’s work as a gift from God. When I was editor at Focus on the Family, I’d sometimes have authors argue over the edits or say something like, “God gave me that, so you can’t touch it!” How arrogant is that? Let people help make your story all God wants it to be, and trust that He allows divine appointments with the right editors, critiquers, and mentors who can help you grow and who can encourage you.

Second, we need to believe in ourselves and our stories. Yes, God has called us to write, but those skills are developed as we study, grow, learn, and rewrite. It’s a process, a journey that often takes years. Continue to grow in your craft by attending conferences, workshops, critique groups, and reading up on the topic so you can be more confident in your work. Then share what you know with others. If I hadn’t believed in our first two books and queried editors, they never would have been published.

Third, we need to have discernment and not be tossed back and forth by the waves and winds of opinions that come our way. Everyone’s opinion is not necessarily valid or correct. God gives people insight and wisdom, but we need to weigh those opinions in light of their expertise—or lack thereof. Then we need to separate the good from the bad, choose what will help our story, and throw away the rest, with a humble heart and gentle attitude.

If you’re a writer, I encourage you to join a critique group or start one yourself. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s enlarging. It’s good.

Are you a part of a critique group? What have you learned. I’d love to know!



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