I have a love-hate relationship with writing workshops. Obviously I see their value; unbiased eyes are always appreciated.
My issue is that I’ve found that there are a lot of people who join these groups and leave their opinion in the equation too much when critiquing someone’s work. Now, our opinions will always be present and have some say in how we view a writer’s work–I get that. But it’s when people aggressively critique someone’s work simply because they “don’t like it.” They don’t like science fiction, they don’t like female protagonists, they don’t like romance, they don’t like that word, etc. To me, that is irrelevant. Perhaps mention it if it’s clouding your ability to critique (eg: “I do think you have great sentence structure and character development, it’s just hard for me to get really into the content because I don’t connect with romance all that much.”), but there are quite a few people who can be blatantly rude and who tend to focus only on what they don’t like, rather than what is working or not working in someone’s piece. I just don’t find that kind of input helpful in any way, shape, or form.
I do, however, find the sense of community helpful. Being surrounded by other writers not only helps me be more accountable, it inspires me to write more. Even if we aren’t critiquing, simply writing in the presence of other writers is beneficial for me.
Recently I found a writing group that I’m excited to attend. They don’t typically critique. They just get together at a cafe, restaurant, bar, etc. and write! It seems that sometimes small groups will get to know one another and want each other’s input so they will create their own little satellite critique group, and I’d be interested in that for sure. I just love the idea of sitting down with other writers to write and motivate each other. Hopefully this group meets (or exceeds!) my expectations!