Writers are the ultimate bootstrappers. Sure, there are classes and clubs and contests. But they don't come to the writer; the writer makes the decision to search them out, take part in them, and learn from them. Except for the lucky writer who attracts a mentor, every writer has to find or create opportunities to become better. Almost everyone, mentored or not, has to write for hundreds or thousands of hours before they produce anything that someone will pay money for.
A good critique group functions as a mutual bootstrapping association. Each member of a critique group still has to put in the pages and the hours. But each time one member takes a workshop or reads a good writing book or sells a story, all the others benefit and are a step closer to their own goals.
It sounds like a miracle, but it's the result of each person sharing their increasing knowledge of writing, markets, and the publishing industry with the others and using their increasing knowledge to give the others better critiques. The group bootstraps itself to a higher and higher level of proficiency.
I know of two critique groups that started with all unpublished members and ended after everyone had become a professional writer with a busy publishing schedule!
Few writers have too many successes to celebrate. By being part of a critique group, you can legitimately celebrate each success of each of your fellow members. After all, you contributed to that success, just as they contributed to yours.
I have a contest running at my personal blog, For Love of Words. To enter, go to this post and leave a comment. The winner receives their choice of a trade paperback copy of my historical novel Like Mayflies in a Stream or a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com.
I'll be blogging at Novel Spaces again on October 5. Until then, I'm wishing you many successes to celebrate.