Now that we've gone over what a critique group is and why it's good to have one, how do we know when to get one?
Sara Allen @http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.com/ says that she recognizes the importance of a critique group, but she doesn't want anyone looking at her manuscript until it is finished. I've heard a few people say that this is how they like to do things, and I'm sure there are plenty more out there who need to finish their first draft before letting anyone else take a look.
On the other hand, I find it very helpful to have a group throughout my writing process. I like to workshop as I go because sometimes I get hung up on plot or character or rhythm or pacing and it helps me to hear other people's ideas even if I don't use them. Most of the time I probably won't use my group members' ideas, but their input helps me see where I need to improve and I fix it in my own way.
Are there other options? Maybe some people like to wait until they've already gone through a couple finished drafts before taking it to a critique group.
I'd say, if you feel ready for a group to help you along, then go for it. But, I will advise that you at least have something written before you look for a group. Ideas alone just won't cut it when it comes to critique groups.
When do you think is the right time for a critique group and why? How do you know when you're ready?