Last night my writing critique group got together for the first time (we’re an on-line group) and one of the topics of the evening was to establish goals for the next year, specifically what we hoped to glean from the group for ourselves as writers. The answers were diverse and when I said that I had never belonged previously a writing critique group, all were shocked. One of our members said that he was particularly surprised because he was always under the impression that writers require feedback from a community in order to grow and sustain their writing. I have to admit, I always thought the opposite of writing. For me it has always been a truly solitary experience.
Now don’t misunderstand, I very much love talking about the craft with others, VERY MUCH, but in terms of working on my craft, I always considered the evolution an intensely individual experience. And until our host had posed that perspective, I had never thought of it otherwise. I gleaned instruction by reading the works of other authors, reading articles written by editors and authors on shaping everything from plot to dialog. I read and I wrote. I read and I wrote. But until I submitted a deeply revised manuscript to an agent in a query, I rarely showed.
What about all of you? What do you want from a writer’s group? Mentors on your craft, or friends with whom you can share the joys and frustrations of writing, or maybe even both?