Putting up a piece of writing up to a critique group is always a leap of faith. This is my baby, my beautiful and perfect story, the words I’ve been slaving over for a week or a month or a year. This leap is even bigger when taking my novel to a professional-level workshop peopled with strangers. Will they hate it? Or worse, will they trash it? Will they think I’m a horrible writer? Will every fear I have about my writing be confirmed?
Invariably the answers are no, no, no, and no. Will they think my novel is perfect in every way and I shouldn’t change a word? Not a chance. They’ll break down the structure and rebuild it, question character motivations until even I’m not sure what I meant, and tell me what parts are brilliant and what parts … aren’t. They will tell me what I need to hear and massage my ego when I need it. In short, they’re pro writers talking to another pro writer.
It’s a really great thing.