Last week was our tri-weekly writers' group meeting at our local library. I shared a chapter of Beholder's Eye, another shared a short piece she wrote when she was younger that would fit perfectly in the sci-fi realm once she writes the ending, and the third member shared a piece she wrote years ago near the genesis of our writers' group.
This last piece was very interesting, on several levels. It delved into the life of a young lady in a post-World War II era in southern Minnesota. She didn't have it completed, but to her credit she put it away so many years ago after a discouraging critique by a former member. The critique was so negative at the time, she almost quit our little group--and what a loss that would be. I wrote a piece of this on 11/11/11 titled Writers' Groups - the good, the bad, and the weird where I briefly mentioned the negative critique.
Take it for what it's worth, but I truly feel that writers' groups should be two-fold: a place of encouragement and learning. No writer is perfect, and we try our best to offer up small solutions to some of the troubling spots, and if something truly isn't written very well, we certainly don't tell the person to throw it away and never write again--in the 9-plus years of attending our writers' group, we have never had a time where we said this to another member. We offered positive feedback and encouragement to strive for better writing.
There is too much negativity out there to begin with, and knowing how fragile writers are at their lonely craft, any discouragement can cause a mental derailment and it may take the writer longer to get back to what they love to do.
What are some of your experiences with writers' groups?