Maybe some of you writers don't have a critique group. Maybe some of you don't think you need one. I'm going to tell you a little bit about mine and try to convince you that you do. A couple of years ago, my family and I moved into a new house. My children quickly became friends with the kids next door. One day they were over and I was looking out my window and there was a group of people sitting around the neighbors' patio table holding papers and talking. I asked my daughter's friend what her mom was doing. She told me that they were having writing group. Writing group, I thought. How awesome! So I did what any desperate writer would do. I invited myself.
We meet once or twice a month (theoretically) and we almost always have an assignment which I love. The feedback I get on my writing is invaluable. I have recently realized, however, that I haven't actually finished anything that I've brought to critique group. I think it gets me stuck in a particular spot editing it to death. So from now on I'm just going to do the assignments and work on improving my writing. (Sorry guys. No books until they're finished.)
We meet in person, which I much prefer, but I know some people have their critique group online. I got lucky and found one that is fitting for me, but you may need to try a few before you find one that you like. A good critique group should have a variety of people that write a variety of different things. The more unique pairs of eyes you have looking at your work the better.
There is also value in just being around other writers. Perhaps more than any other profession, this one is filled with sympathetic, supportive people. Surround yourself with them. Do I always like what they have to say? No. But often I agree with their comments. As the creator of a written work, you have to ultimately decide what is best, but the opinions of others will help you on that path. If you are not in a critique group as of yet, start asking around until you find one.
What does my critique group do for me? They point out those sentences that just don't work, tell me when my main character isn't quite there, show me what they liked and what the didn't, and share yummy cookies. And I hope I do the same for them. Here's hoping you have an awesome critique group, too. Or that you find one soon!
What is your critique group like?