My Take on Critique Groups by A.J. Cosmo – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A. J. Cosmo will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My take on critique groups

There’s a tendency in human nature to form groups around common goals and ideas. Unfortunately, this practice usually ends in the destruction or obstruction of the purpose that formed the group in the first place. Why does this happen? Because as the group grows the focus shifts from being about the cause to being about the group. Bureaucracy, jockeying for position, personal tensions, financial obligations, all of these things build over time and will eventually blot out whatever activities the group was supposed to be doing in the first place. Churches struggle with this, corporations struggle with this; non-profits really struggle with this, and most of all writers’ groups struggle with this.

As a writer you need outside opinions to tell you whether or not something works. Sometimes we can get caught up in ideas, get frozen by a difficult section, or just straight up lose faith in our work, and we need others to help us get through that. However, most writers write for the simple fact that they want to be heard and having a writers group can snare the amateur author into never completing a work. Why? Simple, they have already received the satisfaction of completion without ever having finished the work. If all a writer wants is to be heard, then reading aloud to the group fulfills just that. The writer may not even understand that this has happened and simply complain that they “lost interest” in their latest work and am “working on something else.”

There is great power in secrecy and enormous energy in getting to the end. I do not like to talk about what I’m working on with other people because if they like it, I will feel satisfied and lose momentum. If they hate it, I will get lost in depression and toss out the idea. I would rather discuss things that are finished and accept that nothing is perfect, than have the process guided by someone else. I know others have a different perspective, but I know that this is how I work and I strongly encourage every writer out there to find what suits them. I regularly attend writers groups but find myself rarely ever sharing my work and most of the time simply providing counseling or troubleshooting narrative issues. I’ve seen far too many sessions divulge into a hyena mentality where praise turns to nitpicking and simple issues become insurmountable obstacles.

One of the best ways to stop writing is to attend a writers group.

I do not wish to discourage anyone from attending, but I do want writers to realize that other people can never do the work for them. No one else in the world will finish your novel. No one knows your story better than you. Others may be able to give you fresh perspectives; valuable insights, even hidden gems, but they cannot write a single word. Writing is personal. You have to find the drive in yourself and decide that this is what you are going to do and nothing will stop you from finishing it. Writers groups can be a distraction, a way to keep from the real work. It’s similar to an overweight person who buys new gym clothes rather than going to the gym.

Go to a writers group if you need to, but don’t ever let that keep you from writing.

What a way to start summer… I should have never stood up to that bully Jacob. It was just a water balloon thrown to save my friend’s behind during recess. Now we’re on a bus heading home and everyone gets the same text: “$500 gift card and full immunity to the kid that brings me Aiden- Jacob.” I’m Aiden by the way, and the entire fourth grade is staring at me. Hopefully, with my friend’s help, we can get off at the next stop, three miles from my house, and make it home before the entire neighborhood finds us.

Soaked is the first middle-grade novel by author/illustrator A.J. Cosmo. Filled with humor and suspense, this surprising page turner is a tale of friendship, courage, and standing up for what’s right. For 3rd-5th grade readers.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I’m a coward.

That was the first thing that crossed my mind when the water balloon splattered on Jacob’s face. Jacob, the boy who never needed a hall pass. Jacob, the kid who never ate his own lunch. Jacob, the one you cleared the bathroom for.

Cowards don’t do this, I thought. Cowards run. Let everyone who has ears to hear know that I, Aiden Jones, am a coward.

Jacob let go of Ben’s collar and let his victim join my side. Our classmates fell into a sick silence. No one knew what to do because no one had ever challenged Jacob before.

What about me though? What did Jacob have in store for me? Would he drag me into the bathroom and give me a swirly? Would he hold me under the water fountain? Would he stuff my pockets with water balloons and make me do jumping jacks?

Jacob just stared.

The summer sun pulled the water from his shirt, just as it soaked up the moisture from the plants and our skin. Since the drought began in the mid-west, our cozy little school had turned into a solar oven. The worst part was that the principal could have cranked up the air conditioning and given us all relief, but she didn’t, not even on the last day of school. That’s just the kind of lady she was.

“Jacob–I didn’t mean to–I mean,” I said.

“You almost got my phone wet,” he growled.

About the Author:

A.J. Cosmo is the author and illustrator of over forty children’s books including the best-selling “The Monster That Ate My Socks”. He lives and works in Los Angeles, loves reading and video games, and is hard at work finishing the Monsters A to Z series. “Soaked” is A.J.’s first middle-grade novel.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

    • I don’t recall how but I do recall when: second grade. We were assigned to create our own stories with the chance of them ending up in the library. I was one of two selected and I’ve been chasing to get back in the library ever since.

  3. Victoria says:

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading the critiques, thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Victoria. I don’t want to badmouth groups, they serve their function, but all too often people let “talking” about writing get in the way of actually writing.

  4. kelly tupick says:

    Amazing writing carerr, over 40 children books. Keep up the great work and writing.

  5. Rita Wray says:

    I enjoyed reading the critiques and excerpt.

  6. I’ve been curious about critique groups…

  7. Eva Millien says:

    I enjoyed learning about Soaked, thanks for sharing.

  8. Angelica m says:

    Excited to read with my kids!

  9. amy bowens says:

    I enjoyed your critique on groups. So very true by the way. Thanks for sharing. Definitely letting my kids know about this book!

  10. Betty W says:

    I enjoyed your post about critique groups! I enjoyed learning more about you and your book! Thank you so much for sharing.

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