The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines criticism as the art of evaluating works of art or literature.
In a perfect world, writing groups offer objective, insightful, helpful criticisms but our world is anything but perfect.
As a veteran of 8 writing groups, I can attest to the advantages and disadvantages of placing your written work in front of other writers.
The advantages of a well-rounded group include:
- motivation that inspires you to write so as to prepare for the scheduled meetings;
- meetings with people who share and appreciate your interest in writing (in contrast to non writers who think all writers are verifiably crazy);
- discussions of difficult passages to ease your crafting of those pages;
- identification of your writing strengths and weaknesses;
- suggestions that improve your craft;
- help in the development of plots, characters, settings, pacing, POV, and so on;
- networking about publications, agents, editors, contests, grants, conferences, etc., etc.
The disadvantages center upon members who are:
- unfamiliar with writing techniques;
- weak in editorial skills;
- subjective reviewers rather than objective;
- bent on disliking your work for personal reasons.
Only you can determine if a particular critique group would enrich your writing career. As part of your analysis, consider K.M. Weiland’s blog Six Reasons Not to Listen to Your Critique Partners.
Weiland is the published author of novels and award-winning writing guides.