The writing critique circle is run by volunteers and is attended by people to share and improve their work while providing meaningful feedback on the writing of others.
We want everyone in attendance to feel respected and supported. With that in mind, we have some ground rules and housekeeping arrangements.
Respect each other’s time.
1. Please arrive on time for the meetings. Starting on time is one of the best ways to ensure everyone gets to participate.
2. Stick to the reading time allotted to you. When we begin a session, we divide the time available by the number of participants. Each participant’s time allows for both reading and the critiques of others. We will let you know when you are reaching the end of your reading time. Please keep to your time limit for reading and be mindful of time when you provide feedback.
3. Bring written work to the meetings. Newcomers are welcome to observe at first, but let us know in advance. After that, we expect you to bring work for critique as well as participate in improving the work of other participants.
4. Test your equipment before online sessions. For online meetings, if your technology or software is unfamiliar, please reach out to one of the moderators in advance and arrange to start early or set up a brief session to test or troubleshoot your equipment.
5. Ensure you have a quiet space during online sessions. Use your mute button to minimize background noise.
Respect each other’s work.
6. Criticize constructively. You are not required to say only positive things but you have to be kind. Be mindful of phrasing that can be perceived as pejorative or an attack. Focus on the specifics of language and how it affects the piece. Your critique is about the writing. We seek to improve the work, not tear down the writer. Point out what you liked and what was unclear, with suggestions on how to improve it. Our goal is to improve the work.
7. Accept criticism non-defensively. One of the tasks of the moderator is to direct the discussion to constructive commentary. Take the criticism you receive in as charitable a mindset as you can, even if you disagree. There’s no need to argue with people regarding their critiques. You are under no obligation to make changes to your writing based upon what the critique group says.
Respect where each person is coming from.
8. Be mindful that the diverse life experiences and cultural shaping of other participants will influence their responses to your work. Subjects such as sexual assault, extreme violence, torture of any kind, discrimination towards gender/age/racial/cultural /religious/sexual-orientation, abuse, suicide, genocide, hate speech, ageism, etc. can trigger considerable distress. Be mindful of language which conveys tropes or which might be perceived as pejorative towards racial, gender or cultural groups. If your writing includes any of these topics, please inform the moderator and other participants so that they can choose to leave the circle during your reading and critique of the topic. This is not about censoring your work. We are here to provide insight into the mechanics of making your writing better in a safe and respectful environment. If in doubt, reach out to one of the moderators in advance, prior to sharing.
9. Be charitable and empathetic. Remember that you do not know what others have been through. Empathy for each other, as well as for each other’s writing, is an essential component of a critique circle. Critique members come from different backgrounds with diverse education, skill, ability, passions, and experiences. Moderators may call out works or comments which devalue other people’s experiences or backgrounds. Be sensitive to the perspectives of the other participants. Works or comments which express racism, sexism and discrimination against sexual orientation or cultural will be addressed by the moderator.
We are writers who wish to share our work, improve it, while growing as writers and individuals. We do so by walking alongside each other, encouraging and challenging, with compassion and kindness. Our writing, ultimately, has to connect with the passions, mindsets, and humanity of our readers.