A friend said it the other night, and I've been musing about it ever since. Who? Tracy Carbone, another local author who attends EWAG (Essex Writers' and Artists' Guild) with me. What did she say? The fact that she was disappointed that EWAG wasn't a crit group...at first. Then she realized that she needed the support we offered more than she needed the crits of her work.
That has resonated with me all weekend. I didn't go to EWAG looking for a crit group. I've found that I give a lot more crits than I ask for, and I like it that way. I went looking for a support group and found exactly what I needed in EWAG.
Which is more important? A crit group or a support group? Well, I suppose that depends on what you're hurting for most. But, let me share a few observations I've made over the years.
1) Crit groups are easy to come by, whether they are face-to-face or online. GOOD crit groups are not as easy to find, but they do exist.
2) The problems with crit groups are many. If the authors are at different levels, you may have problems. If they aren't from the same genre... If some are open to small press and some are dead set against it... It's usually easier to find a crit partner or two that you know pretty well and stick with that, IMO. The more people in a crit group, the more potential for catastrophic results from it.
3) Support groups seem to have less tensions, since no one is tearing anyone else's work apart for crit. Are there still tensions? Sure. Some people think the group will FIX them...and no person should have to be under pressure to do that for another. Some cause discord. Some are emotional vampires. Some take the needy thing to extremes that make others plain tired of being support for them.
4) People I know who say they need a crit group just haven't found the person or people that fit for them yet...or have found and lost them again somehow. A move, maybe. Or death or a split of some sort.
5) People who say the crit group is most important to them right now need to find one and are frustrated by the lack of one. Sometimes a support group can help you find a crit partner who clicks. It did for me.
6) People who say they have no need for a support group already have some support network that they haven't realized as such.
It's amazing what you find when you click with a good support group, sometimes what you've been looking for all along...and sometimes what you didn't even realize you needed.
p.s. "I SHOULD note that you'll be hearing a lot more about EWAG soon. It's the group that is putting out the NOBODY anthology in November or so through DarkHart Press. AFAIK, Tracy will be in that. So will Gregory Norris, who you've seen me talk about many times."