To make up for it, I'll probably post something on Friday. Maybe. Right, on with the series about writer's groups.
Oh, Happy Valentine's or some rubbish (I'm not a fan of the day, to be honest).
If you're part of a writer's group, you have a responsibility to show up, even if it's not to your direct benefit. Now, sometimes there are times you just can't. You're unwell, out of spoons, have tickets to Hamilton. We get it. There are times when you're just not able to be there for a meeting. That's alright. However, if the only time you show up is when you're reading, you're only doing half the work. More, it's pretty damned selfish.
Unless your writer's group has a rule that only readers attend a meeting, you need to show up and lend you ears, time and expertise for the people who do the same for you. Not having something or not be scheduled to read isn't really a good reason to skip the meeting. Your feedback is necessary and needed, and is one of the reasons you were accepted into the group in the first place.
It's the decent thing to do, but if that means nothing to you, perhaps something more transactional would. Not showing up for other people makes people not want to show up for you.
Now we have that clear, and you're totally willing to show up and lend your ears and opinions even if you're not reading, the real work will begin. You need to pay attention when someone is reading. You're not just there to have someone read to you a pleasant little story. This isn't a reading of the book tour variety. You're not there to kick back and let your mind be led down wonderful and terrible paths.
You need to sit up, pay attention, turn on the critical part of the brain that is often shut off when people are read to. You're searching for sentences that don't flow so well, character behaviour that doesn't make sense in context, inconsistent characters voices (I've encountered this - where suddenly a character that speaks solely in slang suddenly started with poetic words - the only time it ever happened), plot holes, confusion plot points or sentence structure, etc. Now, it may be that a reader shows up with a really clean piece. That makes critiquing far more difficult, it's true. You have to pay closer attention to catch out the issues. But you still have to pay attention. Honestly. The reader put in the work to offer the best writing they could for you. The least you could do is your part in making it even better.
The reader needs your help to improve. Don't let them down.
Do the work.
Speaking of work, I have tonnes to do. So I'll leave off and go do it.