Do writers need critique groups? Oh yes.
For the most part, writing is a solitary sport. Yet, we all crave that relationship with others of like mind. What’s better than bouncing ideas off others who understand exactly what we’re talking about? Or complaining about this character or that plot twist that just won’t do what we want? Other writers understand.
We also need honest feedback on what we write. Some writers may think that every idea that pops into their head may be the next great novel, but I assure you, it isn’t so. Often we’re so blinded by the lightbulb in our heads that we can’t see past it. Enter other writers. Provided they’re honest, they’ll tell you that your brilliant idea isn’t all you believe it to be. The pithy wording you have in your poem or story, it just doesn’t work. And that’s okay. That’s their job. They’re trying to help you get better. Trying to keep you on the highway.
Everywhere I’ve moved, I seek that community of writers. If I don’t find one, or even one that suits, I build my own. I try to make sure there are all levels of writers in the group, beginners to advanced. And I don’t limit they genre either. Poets look at word choice, novelists look at what makes sense. They can both add to any conversation. Because I’m usually one of the more advanced writers in the group, my biggest problem is making sure I get what I need from them. To that end, I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask lots of pointed questions.
Here’s a nice little talk about of what to look for in a group: Do I Really Need a Writers’ Group?