I had an interesting conversation with a fellow writer (Sarah Allen @ http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.com/) today about critique groups. She works in different ways than I do as a writer, but we both agreed that there is value in critique groups.
I've come up with a few things for the Why, how, where, who, and when on critique groups. Today is the Why?
Why have a critique group?
Almost every author will tell you that having a critique group helped them become better writers.
Carol Lynch Williams and Ann Dee Ellis @ http://throwingupwords.wordpress.com/ are involved in a critique group with some other fantastic writers, and it helps them catch little things in their manuscripts that they can't do on their own.
It's hard to see the flaws in your own manuscript, especially after you've worked on it for so long and gone through dozens of drafts. It helps to have a new set of eyes on your words to help with anything from huge plot structure problems to placements of commas and periods.
Not only is a critique group a chance for you to get your stuff workshopped, but it also gives you a chance to see what other people are writing and to learn how to receive feedback as you give it.
A great aspect of critique groups is the motivation factor. Sometimes it's hard to get to work. It's hard to finish a chapter or a whole novel. A critique group could be your reason to meet your deadlines. They'll help push you to be great just like a piano teacher or a track coach or the director of a play. Your group members will keep tabs on you and ask you where you're at in your writing. And you'll do the same for them.
Most people enjoy a sense of community at least on some level. A critique group will give you a small community where you can share what you love with others who love the same things. They'll support you, love you, and cheer for you all along the way in your process towards publication.
If you have a critique group, tell us why you think it's a good idea to have one. If you don't maybe you should think about getting one, or tell us why you don't want one.