There’s the phrase or perhaps cliche that writing is a solitary journey. I would agree that it is true for the most part. Writers often spend countless hours hunched over a notebook or keyboard like scribes for some mad god called ‘imagination’. Or huddled in a corner somewhere daydreaming about their next plot or a block in their current writing.
That being said there’s use for socilaizing or at least engaging with other writers. At least in theory. I’d joined a few critique groups here and there along the way, both on-line and in my neighborhood. On a certain level I think there’s some benefits to them. Especially when it comes to the technical aspect of writing, ie grammar and sentence structure and all that other stuff you ignored in high school. It can also be useful in certain aspects when it comes to the creative side of writing fiction. Things like info dumps and excessive exposition are easy to dismiss if no one points them out. Or how to write an exciting action scene isn’t something everyone’s a natural at composing.
So, in general I have learned some things from my time in critique groups. Particularly on the technical side of it. However, I find that being in groups like that can get to be tiresome. At a certain point a crit. can become more of a nitpicking session and everyone brings along their personal bais to a crit. I also think that at a certain point an excessive amount of critquing a piece gets is determental to it and the writer. It’s like the proverbial waxing of the cat. A lot of work and pain for nothing but a bigger mess.
I think writers work best on their own. I think crit. groups are useful, but in moderation. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of over analyzing everything and not doing anything but rewriting or combing through every sentence. Another flaw of writer groups is you always have ‘rule police’ that love to crack the whip at anyone/any thing that doesn’t follow the letter of the law in terms of adjectives or etc. I find a lot of those so called rules to be a crock of shit. For every ‘rule’ there’s a successful author that doesnt abide by them. Yet the aspiring writer should? Why? I don’t think King or Koontz or Rowling have a particular liscense to get away with it that the aspiring writer doesn’t posses.
In some ways the problem with ‘socilaizing’ with other writers is that it can hamper your confidence in your writing. I think if you know the basics of grammar and spelling and sentence structure you can delve into going beyond the high school boundaries of writing. Not doing so is like Jimi Hendrix playing traditional scales and riffs instead of experimenting like he did.
Personally, I’ve taken a break from writing groups, both online and in person in order to polish up and concentrate on a piece that I plan on self–publishing later this year. That’s not to say that I won’t go back to a crit group in the future but I will be limiting the number of crits and such.