So at 4th street, the writing seminar this year focused on writer support networks.
Patricia C. Wrede said writing groups are broken down into 3 different types:
A crit group would be a group focused purely on getting everyone's stuff read and critiqued by other members of the group.
A support group is a group that focuses on commiserating about the difficulty of being a writer and supporting each other during the highs and lows.
A social group is a group where writers get together discuss gardening. Or movies, or anything they want as long as it's not really related to the business or craft of writing.
She went on to state that all writing groups have aspects of these three categories. You're not going to go to your crit group and get absolutely no social interaction or support, but it's not going to be the main focus of that group.
The key, she said, to being happy with your writing group, is to decide which one of those three categories you want and make sure you join or form the correct group.
If you want/need crits from people, you'll be frustrated by a support or social group. And if you want support, you may feel hurt if you join a crit group.
Regarding a crit group, Lois McMaster Bujold stated that it's very important to be in a group where there's at least one person who's better than you, so you can grow as a writer. But she also stated what most of us already know, that providing critiques for others also makes us better writers.
She said, in regards to reading someone's work who is way below you in skill/talent, or the work is just not good, the key thing to remember is to:
Be on the side of the story. To remember that there is something in the story that is worth being written.
And to focus on that if you're having a rough time with a rough MS.
And lastly, to remember that it is their story, not yours, so try to keep that in mind if you're thinking about all the cool stuff you could do with their MS.
So how about you? Are you in a writing group? And if so, which kind? Mine is 50% crit and 50% social, split right down the middle.