My 20 Minutes

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: August 20, 2013
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Has your critique group ever fallen into rut where only a few people – the same few people – submit work most meetings? The Viva Scrivas have struggled with this issue occasionally. The reasons can vary: Members may be working on longer works that don’t fit well in our monthly format or hustling to meet deadlines that do not leave time for critique. Others may be focusing on writing rather than revising – or are struggling to find time to write.

Whatever the reason, we Scrivas worried about everyone benefitting from the monthly meetings. We have recently instituted a new process so that every member can get something from our meetings even if they don’t have anything to submit.  We’re calling it “My 20 Minutes.”

Where we used to mostly critique work submitted a week ahead of time, we are now giving each member who wants it 20 minutes to discuss anything on their minds related to their writing. In a recent meeting, where we had only one manuscript to critique, we also discussed an out-of-control middle grade character who seemed to be pulling the writer into young adult material, issues of point of view for a novel, expectations for productivity for an international book research trip, and ideas for marketing an upcoming second book in a series through blog posts.

The conversations were fun, rich and relevant to us all as writers – just like good critiques. So the next time you don’t have something to submit to a critique group meeting, perhaps by sharing a question from your writing life, you can start a helpful and stimulating discussion anyway.


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