So, most writers get involved in a critique group in which they share their work with each other and, as you might have guessed, critique it. It matters a LOT who is in your group because these people have the potential to build you up and hone your skills. Their feedback can highlight your habitual gaffs and spot it when you start to slump or your character has a personality crisis. And, the coveted :-) in the comments box makes me go, "Yes! Maybe I can do this!"
Of course, if they're incompatible partners, who don't get your style or don't care enough to be honest, you could end up with your 'writing voice' hacked to bits or a manuscript that is not your best work.
And that is why I am so thankful for mine! Shout out to ACFW Crit13 (Heyo! Holla back y'all). We have the occasional quiet week, but for the most part I hear from these girls regularly. We started off last week with a "what's that word" email that led to heeelariousness. The kind where you sit alone and laugh out loud and don't even care when the other Borders patrons give you the fisheye. Later in the week though, stuff came up and I got emailed prayer requests and added my own reply to the chain confirming that we were, as a group, ringing God's phone off its hook.
I've had times when I was just beat down by the daunting task that God has called me to, and these gals encouraged me to keep at it, made the elusive title of 'author' seem like a possibility.
And when I gave them my precious baby (that's how we writer types talk about our manuscripts) to evaluate, they did so honestly but with love. So, it wasn't always fun to read the comments, but worth it? Oh yeah. My baby had some ugly spots that are much better now.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." If I had written it I probably would have referred to platinum, or silver at least. Much more flattering to think of oneself as at least a semi-precious metal. But, the point is still there (no, not an intentional pun, though it works with my humor, no?). They make me stronger. Not just as a writer, as a Christian.