Don’t “Group Think”: Writing forums make me angry!



One of the dangers of being an author in the digital age is the easy access to a bunch of other people’s opinions.

As wonderful as writing forums can be in giving isolated writers a community they can be as much of a hindrance as a help. On writing forums, over and over, I see posts that begin with the words “Can I do THIS?” Whatever “this” is, sometimes it’s plot related, sometimes it’s character related. Whatever it is, I think it’s more important for authors to MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS and sink or swim by their own choices. Otherwise you never learn anything. If you have a great off-the-wall idea that you aren’t sure about and you go on a forum posting “Can my character do X?” And everyone says ‘no’ you have killed the idea before it ever had a chance to be born! You don’t know what other ideas following that one idea would have led you to because you let a bunch of people you don’t know tell you what to do.

Get OFF the forums- it doesn’t matter which one your on, STOP ASKING PERMISSION from other people for your own writing and just write! Don’t listen to what other people say until you have a manuscript worthy of trusted beta readers who aren’t random strangers you found on a writing forum.

Let your work grow organically and DO WHAT YOU WANT with the first draft! You can edit the second draft. That’s what it’s there for.


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Posted in Blogging, Writing
13 comments on “Don’t “Group Think”: Writing forums make me angry!
  1. Having been thrown out of three critique groups, I pretty much have to agree. Trying to get validation from others is NOT the way to become a writer. I’ve seen too many writers hold back from publication until they get the green light from their critique group. Never let non-published writers tell you how to execute your own story. Have faith in your vision and push on.

  2. chexgilson says:

    Yes, learning to trust yourself is the key to finding your own voice and vision.

  3. John Brantingam says:

    For your first draft? No, you have to do that on your own. I’d be careful with revisions as well. Some groups are poison. You need be able to identify good voices.

  4. Dac Crossley says:

    Some criticism is valuable – other times I have to bite my lip or I’ll laugh. Those who haven’t published a novel may be the most critical.

  5. This is REALLY good advice! I have a small writing group of 3. We meet in person and critique first drafts. That’s it. No asking the universe for advice!

  6. A good critique can help. A bad critique group can harm. It’s like many other things: you must chose wisely. And I’ll add: if in doubt, opt out.

  7. John says:

    I agree with the sentiments expressed by all. It seems like there are many ways that first draft needs to be kept away from the opinions of others, even the first or second revision, so we can trust the voice and vision we’re endeavoring to express. To post the early stages of a story online for critique seems kind of nutty to me. Why would you do this to yourself? It seems like exhibitionism; I guess we can’t all be Carlos Danger.

  8. I’ve been in good critque groups, and I’ve been in bad ones, but I have never asked either for permission to publish or felt I needed the group’s approval to go forward. I’ve always valued my own instincts about writing above “group think”.

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