The only way to learn to write is by writing.
But one way to learn to write better is to take feedback from other writers on your work. It’s also important to remember to give feedback to other writers.
This kind of back-and-forth helps you discover precisely what people understand from your writing.
It can be a shock to discover that some of what you consider your best paragraphs only confused other writers in your group.
You don’t have to explain or defend your work at the table. However, trying to explain should alert you that you need to do some rewriting.
You decide that after you’ve heard from everybody and considered it for a while on your own. You do not need to change everything to suit the other writers in your critique group, but you should listen to what they say. They’ve put some time into reading your work; some effort into making notes about what they think will improve your writing.
Unless you didn’t understand what someone just said, don’t ask any questions. Just listen.
When it’s your turn to critique, you can save time by saying what you have to say. You don’t need to introduce it with, “It’s just me, and perhaps only my impression, but I think, maybe . . . .”
No beating around the bush. Say, “I think that horse needs to be a different color. Make it stand out more.”
One of the things you’ll find from participating in critique groups is that you’ll get better at looking at your work and improving it before it goes to the group.
Hopefully, everyone else is doing the same, so every writer’s work can get better and better. That’s the reason for your critique group.
It’s not just about the cupcakes!