Here’s a hint on how to handle Too Much Information. Three others and I formed a critique group more than six months ago. The intent is to use each other as sounding boards for the non-fiction works we are writing. One person is writing a memoir, another a How To book on investing, the third a motivational style book and the fourth a guide for a specific writing niche. We meet every three weeks and we get along well.
Each of us brings five-to-six pages of what we are working on and copies for the others. Each writer reads aloud from his or her work while the other three read silently with pencil in hand. When the reading is finished there is usually some discussion about the writing, often pro and con. We meet for two hours, so each member is allotted approximately 30 minutes.
Recently one of the members stated how frustrating he gets between the meetings trying to incorporate the comments from the other three into his work as he is revising.
I assured him that while the others are trying to be helpful, it is still his work and he is under no obligation to use it.
Elizabeth Berg in Escaping into the Open writes, “The worst dangers associated with writing groups are that people can take suggestions too literally, or too much to heart.” What’s a writer to do? Berg suggests if it sounds like great advice and it sits right in the gut, then use it. “And’” says Berg, “ignore the rest.” I consider that good advice for writing and other team activities.
Do you agree?