Next to writing every day, I count constructive feedback from fellow writers most beneficial to my writing career. I belong to two groups. They meet on the same day, for two hours each, on the first and third Wednesdays of the month: one in the morning; one in the afternoon. Since we all live and write on the coast, the afternoon group goes by the name Sea Quills. Get it?
Several writers submit their work at least a week ahead of the meeting. All members are required to read the material and offer verbal and written critiques.
One rule with both groups is that members must be writing. We are not wannabe scribes—dabblers or dreamers. We are writers who produce short stories, poems, essays, chapters from our novels, memoirs—whatever our focus—regularly for evaluation. We are writers who pursue publication.
I appreciate a global appraisal of my work and find MFA graduates are trained to see the big picture. They can tell me if the whole story is working, what’s missing, what’s unrealistic, what’s stereotypical, what’s redundant. It’s good to have one MFA in the group. On the other hand, I know writers who have no formal training who excel at seeing the big picture.