On Breaking Up (Critique Groups)

The light of our critique group dimmed like a candle in the–ah, never mind.

Guys, I went through a break-up last week. It was everything you’d expect; messy, dramatic, exhausting, sad.

I mean, this one happened with my writing critique group, but still.

It boiled down to a difference in management style. The original creator of the group preferred a solid structure and order. I like a more free-flowing, “everyone offers opinions” option. Eventually, we were going to fracture. It happened last Thursday, and it was not pretty.

Here’s the thing, though. I respect these ladies, even if I wasn’t getting as much out of critique as I’d prefer. Sometimes, it’s really just a difference of opinion, nothing more. But breakups are hard, and I didn’t want to lose any of these women as friends or writing colleagues.

I approached on the “age” idea, thinking that’d make it a softer blow to the woman who founded the group. Unlike the other members, all the girls who split with me are in their twenties, unmarried, no kids. Though age and life circumstances don’t matter much for writing, it did mean that between critique sessions, I was meeting privately with the younger ladies for social hour, and the Happiness Crusaders.

Although I thought it would make this easier to digest, turns out mentioning age was a Bad Idea. I offended people without realizing it, and it took a lot of diplomacy to recover from that.

I wound up speaking with the leader of the group. During that call, harsh things were said. Hurtful things. It took a lot of courage on both ends to answer the phone, call back, and talk through the Bad to reach the Good.

Together, we found a new solution. Our critique group dissolved, but between me and the other leader, we’ve created a massive write-in group for local authors! So I’ll still get to see all my fabulous ladies, and I appreciate that.

It might seem insurmountable to recover from a break-up, but with some humility, respect, and understanding, hopefully you can reach an amicable conclusion!

Since I started working as a flight attendant, I’ve learned a lot about patience and dealing with difficult people. Honestly, it’s helped me immensely in situations like these. Here are some tips to handle problem conversations so you both have a good outcome!

  • Remember that everyone receives breakups differently, and be sensitive to that. It might not be big news to you, but to someone else, you’ve just shattered an illusion that everything was amazing.
  • Realize that this breakup isn’t the only thing happening in their lives, and sometimes unrelated events make a painful split even worse.
  • Try to comprehend what their side of the story is. There are two sides to every argument, after all. And putting yourself in someone else’s shoes will help everyone involved.
  • Be mature. It’s easy to dissolve into petty comments and snide remarks. But if you want to avoid burning bridges, you HAVE to be a bigger person. And you might be surprised at how they react.

My lesson in this endeavor is to never, ever assume you know what someone else wants to hear.

Be honest in how you approach things. If you have an issue with management styles, say so. Don’t beat around the bush and hide behind superficial problems like age. In my case, the leader respected me for wanting to forge my own path in life. I never expected her to understand that, but it became clear during our phone call that we both had a lot to learn about each other.


Have you ever broken up a group? How did it turn out? Do you wish you’d done something differently?

I’d love to know in the comments below! <3


  • (kris)tinaboucher

    It sounds like, overall, it was a good idea to break up with your writing group. Maybe a touch too much drama? Anyway, today I had a break up too. It was weird and kind of sad and a very, very small part of me is wondering if I made the right decision. I quit real estate, and broke up with my brokerage. It’s not like quitting a day job or anything, where you put in a 2-week notice, so it’s a little different. I just quit. And I feel GREAT. Like a whole new woman. I even began researching for my next book, that’s how great I feel. So sometimes, break ups can lead to great things, and sometimes I think we need to break up more often! Happy writing!!

    • Rebecca Thorne

      Yeah, I’m not one for drama, so this was stressing me out quite a bit before the actual split. I do feel a lot more free and content now that we’ve put it behind us! Sometimes it’s best to move on and see what wonderful new things await us!

      I’m sorry (not sorry??) to hear about your break-up with your brokerage! My cousin does real estate too, and I know she’s endured the same thing–and it lead to all kinds of awesome things for her career and her home life. 😀 Good for you, prioritizing writing. Can’t wait to see what you’ll create with all that free time! <3

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