For more than 10 years, I have been in the same critique group and I love my critique partners. Here are some of the reasons why.
They see what I do not. They help me talk out my writing problems. They are tough, but supportive.
They have strengths where I have weaknesses. They are great listeners.
We need people who will read our writing to spot the gaps in plot that we have missed, when our characters are acting uncharacteristic, and just to read our writing from a different view. These are all the things we overlook because we are so close to our project. My critique partners have prevented me from making bonehead mistakes that would make me appear to be a total dope to an editor. Sometimes when a plot or writing problem is rolling around in my head, they will also act as a listening board to help me talk through the problem and come up with a solution.
My critique partners can be tough in their reviews, but also point out the good stuff that I have written. I belonged to one critique group that was totally negative and I wanted to cut my throat at the end of each session. Not a good thing. As writers, we beat ourselves up enough. We need the right amount of negative and positive, so finding the right partners is essential. I am strong on plotting. My critique partners are great at motivation and structure. They are more literary where I am not. They help me improve the weaknesses in my work. I credit them with helping me make one of my books the best it could be. That one was published by FSG in New York. I paid for their dinner (and dessert), but owe them so much more.
They are there to listen to me whine and reassure that yes, I am a writer. I have learned so much from them and I hope they can say the same for me. If I never publish another book, I am still so grateful to them for helping me become a better writer.
God bless my critique partners.