I have the most amazing writer's group. We critique each other's work, write stories for our newest anthology, and laugh at our own mistakes. We've been together five years and all of us are dedicated to becoming better writers.
For example, after I've spent weeks or months writing and editing a new short story, I go back to my group with ten copies of it tucked into my briefcase. Unwillingly, I pass the stapled copies around and ask if someone would read it. Out loud! I listen. I watch the faces with curiosity while they mark up their copy of my valued work.
After the reading is finished, I reluctantly ask for comments. What they say, you don't really want to hear. You do not want to be told that the first sentence is off the mark, or that there's not enough dialog, or the protagonist is not described well. Even worse is noting that someone is writing furiously in the margins of their copy before they pass it back.
When I return home, I leave the ten copies in my bag, and don't look at them for two weeks. I don't want to read their 'additional' comments. Three weeks later, after bringing them to my writing cabin, I turn them upside down on the floor by my table. The pages talk to me as they sit at my feet with their corners flipping up in the breeze from the open wall of windows in front of me, and I feel their urging to be looked at.
Finally, enthusiastically, I grab one. Then another. Now I'm on the floor with all the copies forming a circle around me. The comments are helpful, but I wince when I see the obvious mistakes I've made.
I've a long way to go as a writer, as you can tell because this blog has not been edited by my friends, but I get better with each piece I submit to my group. I'm proud to be a member. And when it's my turn to write a comment on another writer's story, I'm honored. Really!