Destructive Critique Groups? Destructive critique groups seem to be a difficult idea for people to get a handle on. This may be because critique groups are supposed to be helpful and constructive. I have been reflecting about critique groups on this blog most of this. It is a topic that is of crucial importance to both a seasoned writer and a novice. It seems that writers are insecure and that the nature of writing tends to cause even more insecurity. So, if we are part of a critique group, the group should try and build us up and not tear us down. If a critique group or one or two members tear down other members of the group, the whole purpose of the group seems to be undermined, and it is best possibly to move on and get feedback from somewhere or someone else. Over the years, I have been part of many different critique groups. I have discovered that critique groups have many different seasons. Some groups that I have been in lasted for years, and they were positive and wonderful all the time. In some of my other groups, one or two members had to hold the group together and nothing seemed to totally work regardless. There were one or two bad apples in the group, and these apples kept surfacing from time to time, infecting everything and everyone. How can one find a healthy, enriching critique group, one in which all the members of the group prosper and grow as a result of being together? That is such a difficult question to answer as the dynamics of the group will differ with each group. And this dynamic will seemingly shift from month to month, depending on what the members of the group are experiencing in their lives at the time. So, critique groups are not static structures. Instead, the members tend to fluctuate and their intentions and overall purposes tend to be in flux as well, sometimes leaving the group in flux. Which leaves me wondering, is it better to be in a critique group, even if things aren’t always running smoothly, then trying to write all alone? I would have to say ‘yes’ it IS better to have some kind of outside assessment of your writing. However, a destructive critique group which keeps you feeling awful about yourself and your skills isn’t worth it. Sometimes, you must take the self-esteem that you have left and move on to better things. ~ Happy writing! ~ Irene