Joining a critique group is one of the best things to happen to me.
First and foremost is the invaluable help from the critiques themselves. Having fresh eyes on my manuscript is such a blessing. They see things I can't because I am so close to the project, both technical and big-picture.
And I think I have become a better writer from reading my partners' MS's. I'm relatively new to critiquing, and even though so much of it is just opinion, I find myself anticipating what so-and-so would say about this word choice, description, etc. as I write.
Surprisingly, there is another HUGE benefit to sharing this writing adventure with others: motivation. Because so many are in my same situation in life, mother with children at home, I can ask for advise on when to write, how to write with kids, what are your writing goals, and most of all HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL?
And ultimately realize, if you can do it, I can too. My emails are filled with positive encouragement to keep on writing and it seriously helps me to keep going when sometimes all I want to do is pretend I never discovered the awesomeness of writing in the first place.
I even got a postcard in the mail this week from one of my CP's with a wonderful note of encouragement on back and this in the front:
So true. So true.
Check out my wonderful writing partners in crime on the links to the right.