Joining a writing group is a very good way to learn about the craft, especially for a beginning writer. You will hear pieces from a number of different genres. You will hear the use of various points of view. You will receive comments from beginning writers as well as very experienced writers.
The best way to use your group is to listen. Listen not only to the comments on your work but also to the comments on pieces from other members of the group. You will learn to distinguish viable, helpful, constructive critique from those who like to hear themselves talk—there’s always at least one.
Learn to appreciate the critical talents of your fellow writers. One may hear the sounds of your sentences, the vowels and consonants. Another may be a grammar queen. Another may be an expert at building tension. Listen.
When it comes to comments on your own work you have the choice to make changes or not. Keep this in mind. If a fellow writer makes a comment with which you violently disagree tilt your head to the side, look them in the eye and say, “Hmmmm. I’ll have to think about that.” The comment may contain a grain of truth so wait until later, at home, to consider if it does or not.
You will learn to distinguish the difference in pacing between a novel and a short story. You will learn to hear sentences that are awkward. You will get suggestions for the word that doesn’t quite work. You will hear when dialogue flows and sounds natural and when it does not.
If you continue with regular attendance you will find a number of ways in which your writing skills are honed. You will receive honest feed-back on your writing. Best of all you will make friends who understand the writing life.
Of course, the best consequence will be that you will gain skills in honing your craft.