Why? Because I’m too close to the foothills. To see the full effect, I have to put distance between myself and the mountains, driving east out onto the plains. Then, when miles away, I can turn and see the Rockies in all their song-inspiring glory.
The same is true with my writing. I can be too close to my words and miss the big picture completely. In order to get a clear view, I can try to distance myself by putting the first draft on the shelf for a few weeks. After time, I can come back to the project and edit it from a fresh perspective.
But, the freshest eyes are those who have never seen it before. Like the out-of-state visitors to our state who gawk at the peaks (and gasp for air at the higher altitudes).
Enter the critique group. I am part of two online groups of writers who turn their skills toward my words. Finding plot inconsistencies, point-of-view slip-ups, and cliche characterizations. Pinpointing passive voice and places where I told the story instead of showing it. But, most importantly, they have uncluttered reactions to the story itself. Did they laugh? Or cry? Or ponder?
In seeing my writing through new eyes, I discover my story anew. Like when friends from Kansas see the mountains for the first time and I appreciate the scenery I had grown accustomed to.
What about you? Do you have someone to provide objective feedback? What benefits have you found? Any problems?