I’m a strong proponent of writers participating in critique groups. Feedback is so important–not just for new writers, but all writers. I participate in several critique groups. I have two small, private groups that each meet twice a month. We read our work and then receive feedback. There’s something remarkable that happens over time working in small groups. You get to know the voice and style of the other writers. You get to know their work and their characters and are in a position to offer feedback based on that knowledge.
Another things that comes out of long-time groups is the support and camaraderie that comes from getting to know people. We support each other when things are going poorly, but we also offer needed support when things are going well–the work and the career.
I also lead a small critique group for gay writers. It’s been a bumpy start, without a solid core of writers so far. That’s been a challenge for me, but I do feel that this new group will come together in time. The bottom line is that we’ve done some good work, even if the attendance has been spotty. I believe one of the keys to being successful at writing (and just about anything else) is that we must show up and do the work. So many who have come to this new group have expected, I think, to be told they’re wonderful and they don’t need to do anything to their work. That’s so rarely the case.
Finally, there’s a large writer’s group in our area. I spent many years on the board, including 4 years as president. I no longer get to attend this group on a regular basis because of other commitments. But, I get to return every once in a while and it’s nice to know that the work there continues. This group has over a hundred members and seems to get 20-25 at a meeting. That’s a lot of people, so most of the feedback is written because there isn’t enough time for that much verbal feedback. But, it’s still a supportive group and there’s something nice about knowing the group is there every week whether I get to go or not.
Support and feedback are essential in the life of a working writer.