Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dipping the Quill Deeper—The Value of a Critique Group

by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson

In March 1997, five Christian writers gathered around a table in Longwood, Florida with one goal in mind: to become better writers. We wanted to be the iron that sharpened iron by use of honest critique that included “what works” as well as “what needs to be improved upon.”

Next month, what began in earnest simplicity, will celebrate 22 years. Five have become 850. One small group has become over 40 “chapters” and nearly 30 online “pages,” across the globe. The members of Word Weavers International have made a lasting impact, not only on the industry God called us to, but more importantly to the people He led to our words. 

In his book, Unless it Moves the Human Heart (Echo, 2011) author Roger Rosenblatt tells of a former teacher of his named Jack Sweeney. One thing Jack Sweeney did, Rosenblatt writes, is that he found something valuable in every comment students made, no matter how far off the mark it might be.

There are times when, as the president of Word Weavers International, I look back on the numbers of writers who have been in and out of our ranks, their works published—books, magazine and ezine articles, blog posts, devotionals, greeting cards. I marvel at how we’ve achieved our accomplishments and I wonder at the possibility of a “secret formula.”

Of course, any success for us is largely due to the work of the Holy Spirit. But I also believe that it is, in part, due to our method of critique. Knowing what works is as important as knowing what “doesn’t.” Being aware of strengths must be balanced by weaknesses. And vice versa.

We’re all in the same leaky boat in a writing class, Rosenblatt continues. No one, the teacher included, is ever completely right. 

And this is completely true. No matter how many books I’ve seen published with my name on the cover, I am aware that I still don’t know it all. But here is what I do know:

Books are not written, they’re edited.
Books are not written, they’re rewritten.
Books are not written solo, there is a team behind every single title on every single shelf. 

And, no matter what critique group—or accountability group—you’re in, at the end of the day, your work is your baby. Listen to what others say. Don’t listen. The choice is yours. But remember, you must balance and good news about your work with the not-so-good (we don’t say “bad”). 

If you’d like more information about Word Weavers International, go to Word-Weavers.com


Eva Marie Everson is the multiple award-winning and bestselling author of over 35 books, both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and North Georgia Christian Writers Conference. Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they enjoy a lake view, their children, and grandchildren. They are owned by a very small dog.


  1. Ms. Eva Marie, I can't say I have taken every suggestion to heart in my writing; nor do I believe I should. I agree wholeheartedly that my critique partners, writing groups, editors, and writing friends have most definitely made me s better writer. Lots of room to grow yet, but with God's help (and a few more CPs) I'll get there. Great post. Thank you ma'am and God's blessings.

  2. What a great post, and a great salute to critique groups done RIGHT.