Critique Groups in the Time of Social Distancing
Is your critique group surviving the pandemic restrictions on social gatherings? Maybe your group has always been a virtual one. My group had met in-person for many years. With the pandemic, of course, we've been forced to go virtual. We still meet once a week but are forced to rely on "dreaded technology" to connect. Honestly, this is working out better than I expected, although I'm sure we will be meeting in-person again as soon as it is safe to do so.
For all the technical difficulties we've experienced, I don't think a meeting has been canceled yet due to technological hiccups. The virtual meetings run almost smoothly as the in-person ones. Occasionally, someone will start their critique with the mic off, but that's a minor issue. The main problem I have with "going virtual" is my boys crashing the meetings. Now, usually, this isn't a huge issue. Typically, they elicit smiles, and I can always mute their chatter. Sometimes though, I have to be pretty fast to kill the video since my youngest will occasionally and for no easily discernible reason walk around in only his b-day suit!
Despite these issues, I'd say keeping the group meeting during the pandemic has been the right decision. First off, just for continuity's sake–you know, to keep people in the habit of attending. As importantly, the critiques are just as good virtually as they are in-person. I have significantly improved current WIP, an epic fantasy, over the past month or so based on the feedback I received on the first couple of chapters (I'm now 29 chapters in, BTW). Just as Matt Bird claims, it always pays to listen to anyone willing to offer you constructive criticism on your writing.