Do you think writer's groups are worth it? Why?
Is there true knowledge, insight, and a helpful critiques to be gained? Or has your experience been that it's just a group of aspring writers that are legends in their own minds?
How do you weed out the types that honestly want to talk about writing instead of actually writing?
Any group's effectiveness will depend upon the quality and intent of its members, especially those who are closest to its nucleus. Sometime bad apples can be weeded out, but other times they are the center of the group, in which case you need to either overthrow them or move on. If people are helping you it's a good group. If they are hurting you it's a bad group. But don't mistake pain for destruction or pleasure for growth, as either sensation might be irrelevant.
My experience has been that writing groups vary widely. One needs to try a couple of different groups. Usually, you find a group that fits you the best. The best groups I've been part of have a variety of experience and a variety of drive in the members. Sometimes a simple reflection of the feeling your work raises in readers is helpful. There is not straight good or bad group I have experienced. We are all individuals and thus not all groups will work for each of us. Find what works and give of yourself to make the group stronger.
I never joined one. I personally thought it would take me too long to meet my goals. I wanted to press in for an agent and publishing--putting my energy there. It worked! Thank Jesus!
I have never belonged to a writers group. I find that I am my own best critic. I know my intentions and my intended readers....neither of which belong to a writer's group. Once a book is with the publisher..I enjoy the feedback and collaboration from the editor assigned to my manuscript.. Together we cull the manuscript to meet both of our needs.
One of the reasons we created WAENet was to create a virtual writer's group that would put the emphasis on socializing and sharing. The problem I experienced when I was starting out in writer's groups is that they are people who are all chasing the same dream and may be competitive in a destructive way. I remember one frenemy who would always greet me with "so, (nasal inflection added) are you writing anything? This was usually followed with what she was doing and how wonderfully it was all going and how the world would be waiting for her work. Nowadays there is all this fodder for bragging like "I have a million facebook friends and tweet every three minutes and everything goes viral!!!" My suggestion is to take advantage of groups that boost your self esteem and that are good for your soul. Find people who are like minded but do not want to take out their ego needs on your fragile state of learning the ropes. Thank you for posting. We hope you will enjoy the site and visit regularly.