I've written in the past about the importance for a writer of being in a writers group. In those posts, I mentioned four reasons to join a writers group:
1) Reading out loud in front of a group makes you try harder when you're polishing your work.
2) The support of other writers boosts you and supercharges your desire to write.
3) The critique provided by the other writers is an important tool in improving your work.
4) A regular meeting helps you get back on track when you've lost your way.
I'd like to mention a fifth that's occurred to me lately. At the last few meetings, some of the other writers have read some really great pieces. A couple writers in particular read chapters from their books that impressed me--and maybe made me a little envious. Hey, I can write as well as that!
So why haven't I?
Obviously, I've really got to up my game if I'm going to keep up with these guys. And so we come to the fifth reason: competition. When other writers are hot, when they bring in something that makes you say "Damn!" When they're providing the group with a master class in how it's done, you know it's time to get to work on your own story or manuscript.