Five and a half years ago I joined a writers' group. I wasn't sure I really wanted to at the time, but I decided to give it a try. Up until that point, I'd never shared my works-in-progress. My adult daughter used to read and give feedback on the "finished" manuscript. But the earliest drafts of my stories are too fragile to survive criticism. I still believe this. I have to turn off my "inner editor" when I'm writing. Because the story is still evolving, too much scrutiny will cause it to shrivel and die. It will be many months before I feel I can share it. And this is where the writers' group comes in.
We meet monthly, except during the summer. We celebrate our successes and commiserate over our rejections. We share any calls for submission we've come across. We also pass around any good books we've read and these too get discussed. Anyone who wants to read from a work-in-progress is welcome to. Usually, at each meeting, one or two of us will. The criticism is always constructive; we're there to encourage each other.
I value the insight I've gained from these other writers and, for the most part, I incorporate the changes they suggest. Their support has become invaluable to me. I've found that sharing the roller coaster ride that is the writing life with a group of likewise-involved people is good for me.