by Laura Drake
We’ve been talking about critique groups here at Writers in the Storm lately. Jenny started us out with 10 Power Tips for Critique Groups, and Sharla followed up with her post on how to form a Critique Group.
At crit group this week, we were talking about change; how it seems that everything goes along the same for a while, and then BAM! It all seems to change overnight. Changes happen all the time in critique groups. Life intercedes, members move on, new members join, disagreements or personality conflicts may happen. People may become discouraged and stop writing, or move on to other passions. Crit groups are constantly changing, in large and small ways.
And that can be scary. After all, a crit group (providing it’s a good one) is our biggest support group as writers – they’re people who actually getwhat we do! Members become close personal friends, and the group develops a history, with favorite stories, just like family.
Changes can filter down, effecting or our ability to keep our writerly butts in the chair, and even the quality of the writing itself. I don’t know about you, but my writing looks very different (read: better) after traversing the crit group gauntlet.
Even if you see the change as positive, the gulf between where you are and where you want to go can look like shark infested waters. Group dynamics come into play - you have to take other’s wants/needs into account as well as your own. When the health and viability of the group may depend on these decisions, how do you reach consensus?
The group will morph and change – there’s no stopping it.
But you can prepare yourself. Laurie Maddalena put together some strategies for developing resiliency in dealing with change.
- Step away, take a breath, and take some time to think realistically about the impact of the change and the strategy for moving forward. We often get caught up in the change itself and cannot think clearly enough to develop a strategy.
- Adjust your mindset from viewing change as a problem to an opportunity.
- Think about the different perspectives you could have around the change. What perspective do you choose to be in?
- Keep sight of the long term vision, not what the change causes short term. How will your perspective be different a year from now?
- Be open to learning. If we resist change, our energy is wrapped up in the effort to maintain the status quo. Think, "What can I learn from this?"
- Change often causes stress. Ask yourself, "What can I control in this situation? What can I do to influence this situation? What do I have to accept about the situation?"
- Focus on the present moment. Don't think about what has happened in the past or what could happen in the future.
- Trust yourself. Developing an inner equilibrium is essential for being resilient in the midst of change. Trust that everything will work out.
- Improve your ability to respond to change. Stretch yourself in little ways every day. How will you respond to the terrible traffic? How will you react to trying something new?
- Be open to self-change. In every experience with change, be open to learning and changing yourself. Ask yourself, "How can I grow from this change?
How about you? Has your experience with change in your crit group been good? Not so good? Please share what you’ve learned with us.
I wouldn’t be the ‘quote Queen’ if I didn’t leave you with a few gems:
Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. ~Robert C. Gallagher
If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change. ~John A. Simone, Sr.
There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place. ~Washington Irving
Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. ~John Kenneth Galbraith
The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. ~Ellen Glasgow
Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. ~Faith Baldwin
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown
We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it. ~John Steinbeck, America and Americans