Why writers’ critique groups disappoint

I’ve tried quite a few critique groups. You know, a bunch of folks who present written pieces for commentary. They vary in format and style and frequency, but typically grumpy old me finds them wanting and leaves. Why?

I can think of many reasons why I or any writer might find a particular critique group unsuitable. A personality clash with a group member is one possibility. A critique group mightn’t be well managed, with individuals grandstanding or lacerating. A group might meet too often or not often enough. The.culture could be poisonous.

But the issue I’ve personally encountered most is a simple technical one. For me it’s important that all the writers in the group are roughly “of the same standard.” Yes, I know that defining writing “quality” is subjective, but the issue to me is how I feel the group stands in relation to my own perception of how well I write.

Specifically, I usually exit a writing group because I find too many members are “not good enough,” a judgement that damns those who don’t write much and whose pages are, in my opinion, even more amateurish than mine.

So that’s why I’m so enamoured with the Inner City Writers Group. All of us are equals. All of us are producing real manuscripts. All of us will one day be rich and famous. Well . . .

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