A group of local genre writers in my area meets once a month for dinner, conversation and some light critiquing. We have a young writer with us who mentioned that he didn’t realize we’d be critiquing so formally and laughed about his high school writing class where they read each other’s works and don’t say much at all.
His comment is one I’ve seen echoed in a few online writing groups where some are proud of the fact that they never read other books or critique others. Usually, it’s to keep their own writing “pure”. For me, critiquing is as much a part of the writing process as research and proper wordsmithing is.
I’ve learned so much by critiquing other people’s writing, and the more I do it, the better I get. I also read other people’s critiques, trying to see a story through their eyes. I’m part of the OWW and find it to be very much worth the small monthly fee to have full access. I’ve got the monthly local writing group that meets, plus a small online group of writer friends who have been together almost three years. It’s a lot of work each month to read other stories and think about them and write thoughtful critiques, but in the end, absolutely worth it.
As for that young writer in my group, he shows a lot of promise. He listens, and most important of all, he’s actually putting butt-in-chair and writing. It’s a lesson a lot of older writers are still figuring out.