I am all for people joining critique groups or writing groups where others give feedback on your work. I think it’s very important to have people outside your close circle of friends and family read your writing and tell you what they think.
That being said, don’t be surprised by people’s honest feedback.
If you’re just looking for your ego to be stroked, you’re not going to get any real benefit from these kinds of groups. We all love to hear praise and that people enjoy our work, so there’s no shame in that, but if you’re ignoring feedback that isn’t praise you’re doing yourself an injustice. That’s not to say you need to take everyone’s advice for fixes or rewrites, but it should be worth thinking about. As I’ve said before, you’re the artist and you get final say, but you should be going to these groups to improve your writing and hone your craft, so don’t just make excuses about your formatting or wrong choice of words, say thanks and decide what you want to do about it after the fact.
For those providing the feedback, a few words of caution: Honest feedback is important, but there’s no need to crush someone’s spirits. There are ways to give suggestions without being cruel or rude about it. Also, I believe there is always something good to be said about everyone’s writing. Find that thing and be sure to mention amongst your other comments. The point is to help your fellow authors improve, not depress them to the point of quitting.
Everyone’s got a role to play at these groups. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your time spent with them. If you feel you aren’t getting honest feedback, don’t hesitate to find a new group. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit and another group may better understand what you’re trying to accomplish or be more willing to give the kind of feedback you’re looking for.
Do you give honest feedback, or are you too worried how people will react?