Critique Groups and Their Value

I recently went on a business trip and meet up with some of my colleagues from around America, one of them is a published author.  Not a very big author, but an author nonetheless.  I realized that there are many things that I just have no clue about when it comes to writing, largely because I have been rather lazy when it comes to my own writing.  After highschool, writing has taken a backseat to just about everything; college mostly, work, dating, marriage, and now raising my very own little man, and even more school.  Throughout all of these life changes however, my imaginary world has been on my mind, always on the to-do list behind washing the dishes, always rubbing elbows with the little gray cells, scrambling for some priority that just rarely comes.

After some considerable thought, I have taken my self-published book off of the market because I realize that it just was not ready for publication yet.  It is now in the midst of its of 5th revision, although this time it is focused more on editing than for total overhaul.  Back to the initial topic…

During the business trip and my encounter with this author I learned about critique groups, something that unbeknownst to me, is fundamental to every author.  Basically, a critique group is a group of authors, aspiring authors, or beta readers who get together to read each other’s work and provide feedback about writing style, grammar, word usage, flow, and other important aspects that every author should be concerned about.  This concept of a critique group is an astonishing idea that somehow never crossed my mind before, largely because I was just too busy with life to learn about even the most basic tools available for authors.  There was just one problem though, a critique group did not exist in my area.

So I created one.

The Augusta Writer’s Critique Group was founded via Meetup on August 21st, 2018 and now has 50 members.  Tomorrow is our third meetup and I’m excited to say that I have learned so much from speaking with other authors and aspiring authors in my area.  Favoring ancient poets and fantasy writers, I have not allowed myself to wander into different genres very often, and I find that this significantly limits my own potential for writing and places me even more in the box that a new writer is already challenged enough to try to climb out of.

The purpose of this blog is two things:

  1. If you are serious about writing, and wish to eventually complete a book (never mind publish one, self-published or otherwise, just complete it), it is extremely important that you prioritize writing in your life.  Carve out a special time once per week, twice per week, every day if possible, to devote to writing, or just to thinking about writing.  If this is not done, kiss your dreams of being an author goodbye because despite what you’ve heard, the book does NOT write itself.
  2. Learn about what tools are available to help authors succeed in your area.  It can be something as simple as carving out an hour and a half once per month to meet with other authors in your area for a critique, or it could be attending a writing workshop.  Because I established the AWCG, the 2018 Writing Workshop of South Carolina reached out to me to spread the word about a writing workshop taking place in November that I had no idea about.

So if you are an aspiring author, an established author, a self-published author, or just someone who is thinking about putting your imagination onto a shareable medium, then prioritize thing 1 and thing 2.  It doesn’t have to take precedence over raising a baby or turning in your homework, it just has to make it onto your calendar.

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Author: MJ Pankey

MJ is a writer and writing consultant devoted to her muse and to helping other writers gain confidence, overcome obstacles, and unleash the story within. She offers multiple services on her platform,, and creates helpful content for writers on her youtube channel.

3 thoughts on “Critique Groups and Their Value”

  1. Hello!

    You read one of my books a long time ago and mentioned it on this blog. (One of my first blog features ever, unasked for, which I’ll always appreciate.) I just wanted to let you know I published again – except it’s in the new adult/fantasy genre rather than YA/dystopian – in case you’d be interested in my new book. Below is the Goodreads link.


    I’m also on Instagram/Twitter as an author now. (@authorcatherinelabadie for insta, @authrcatlabadie for twitter.)

    Thanks for your time and the initial review (and best of luck with your writing!! Happy Nanowrimo if you’re participating this year!)

    Catherine Labadie (aka Sarah Catherine Muth)

    1. Hi Catherine!

      Done and ordered your book! I’m very excited to read it. Thank you for remembering me! I’m not officially participating in Nano this year but unofficially I’m working like mad to revise my book. Best of luck to you as well and please check back for your book’s review.

      Thank you!
      MJ Pankey

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