Not to say that one way is wrong and everyone must go that route because with or without critique, it's really the work that speaks for itself and different people just have their own ways to get to that final product.
In my experience, I've tried writing on my own, without the extra eyes and extra input that another person can give. I don't have a degree in writing, English, or literature. The gist of my writing credibility when I first attempted writing a full length manuscript was summed up into a few creative writing classes I had taken and English courses from high school.
For the longest time, I was completely terrified of showing anything I had written to anyone for many reasons that I'm not going to get into here. I don't know at what point things had shifted, but I decided that I was going to need those extra pair of eyes.
I needed help.
I began using my social media experience to reach out to others who were in the same boat. I pored through blogs, and attended online conferences and webinars. Not only did I start gaining knowledge about the industry, but I also began striking up conversations with people who shared the same interests, who had the same ideas and experiences, and who could be someone that could help shape my attempt at a writing career for the better.
I started off with one or two people I had met at WriteOnCon and, eventually, ventured out to blog postings that helped to pair up writers with others of the like for the purpose of exchanging works for critique. It was one of the best moves I had ever made.
Not only did I make new friends, but I found writers who could take a look at what I had written and give me honest, no holds-barred input on what they felt could be improved. This experience with critique partners and beta readers also helped to thicken my skin (okay, I might still be working on this one...LOL *shifty eyes*). Their critique helped to see certain elements that I may have otherwise missed, or provide input that could potentially make the work much better.
Something to keep in mind about critique, however, is that all input is subjective. Every person has their own opinion of what should and shouldn't be. Of what is missing or what is glaringly obvious. The way the information is handled and filtered into the manuscript is all up to how the writer interprets and uses the information given.
I look back on the first draft of the very first manuscript I had written and sort of cringe. *laughs* But, I know that without that first attempt, I wouldn't have something to go back to that I could compare with how much better I've improved since then. Critique helps the writer to grow. It challenges the writer's current skills and help to shed a new light on things that might have otherwise been missed. It helps the writer to grow as a person and to take from it the good.
At least that's what it's done for me.
What are your opinions on critique? Do you think they're necessary for a writer's growth or do you think its influence does more harm than good?