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As usual, life is very hectic here, but weíve finally got the latest issue online!  We have some very nice pieces this quarter, and we hope you enjoy them all.

 We thought weíd start using these editorials to talk about writing and the writing process in general.  Every writer wants feedback on their writing, but very few publications have the staff or the time to actually do this.  So where do writers turn?  One of the best ways of getting your work critiqued is by joining a writing group.

 However, while good writing groups can be one of the best ways of polishing your writing, few things can make you more discouraged and stop your writing process than a bad writing group.  To help you avoid the stress and annoyance that a bad writing group can cause, weíve put together a list of things weíve found helpful and not so helpful about the writing groups weíve been in.

 Be selective in who you let in your group.  This might sound bad, but you want to make sure everyone is comfortable with each other.  Everyone in the group needs to know each other beforehand if at all possible.  You want everyone to feel comfortable contributing and giving his/her opinion, and you donít want personality clashes.  On the other hand, though, you want to be sure everyone is honest about his/her opinions.  A writing group of your friends who praise everything you write is not going to be helpful.

 Say positive things.  Critiquing a piece does not mean saying only negative things and pointing out problem spots.  As a writer, itís very helpful to know what does work in a story.  If you find a line of dialogue or a passage you really like, let the author know.

 Donít take things personally!  This is the biggest way of destroying your writing group.  While it can be hard, especially if youíre writing memoirs or stories based on something very personal, you have to learn to separate yourself from your work. 

 Donít necessarily make every change.  While many things your fellow writers point out may be very valid, there are times when you might not want to change something.  Thatís perfectly OK.  For example, say you write mainly science fiction stories.  Members of your group who donít regularly read sci-fi may want you to change things that you know sci-fi fans will understand.  You can explain that your readers will know what youíre talking about.  Basically, you should weigh each piece of advice from your group and decide if thereís a valid reason for making the change.

 Donít let people become lazy.  If someone isnít reading and critiquing everyone elseís work, say something.  If it becomes a habit, let him/her know that the rest of the group is going to stop critiquing his/her work.  Sometimes there are valid reasons for someone not reading, but sometimes there arenít.

 Donít let the group fall apart.  The real world has a way of stepping in and demanding you pay attention to it.  If this happens too often, you might find it difficult to find a time when everyone can get together to critique writing.  This is probably the thing that causes most writing groups to fall apart.  Make your group a priority and donít skip out on it unless you absolutely have to.

 We hope sharing these lessons weíve learned about writing groups will help you form or keep your writing group going.  Do you have any writing group experiences or lessons that youíd like to pass on to other writers?  Email them to us at and weíll post them in the next issue. 

 -Matt & Kristina