Tuesday Writing Tip – Why Join a Writer’s Group?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently I joined a new writer’s group and I am loving it.

This group is an eclectic mix of ages, levels of experience and genre. And it’s one of the things that makes it work so well.

Only one other person writes YA like me. There are poets, adult novelists, screen writers, non-fiction writers and writers prepared to tackle pretty much anything.

It’s a local writer’s group and it’s so inspiring to listen to all the other writing being done and to think of all the keyboards buzzing and creative juices flowing around me.

Writing is a solitary profession where you spend so much time at your keyboard and in your headspace, so it’s important for me to know that I’m not alone in this.

I’ve only been going to this group for a couple of months but already I can see the benefits:

1.  I’m becoming committed to my writing again because even if I don’t have publishing deadlines, there’s the deadline of reporting on my writing activities for the month and there’s also an expectation that you bring 200 words to be workshopped. So this makes me think about what I need help with.

2.  My eyes are being opened to other genre and styles.

3.  I’m being encouraged to look at my writing in a new way because many of the group are not familiar with my genre.

4.  I’m being introduced to new books and genre, which is sparking new ideas for stories outside my comfort zone.

5.  I’m learning new techniques from hearing how other authors work to build their story worlds and plots.

6.  I’m finding out about new competitions, grants and opportunities to be published.

7.  I’m getting to know a new group of people and have exposure to a new range of talents.

I’ve been in writer’s groups before that haven’t worked this well – and I think the main difference with this one is that the members of the group actually write – not everyone – not every month – but there are always enough people in the group who have written so we can have lively discussions and something to inspire us.

Are you in a writer’s group? If so, feel free to share your tips and experiences on what makes your writer’s group work. Perhaps you have questions about starting a writer’s group. Feel free to ask them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

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6 thoughts on “Tuesday Writing Tip – Why Join a Writer’s Group?

  1. Shared this with my Writers’ group Dee. Summed up my exact reasons for being where I am and doing what I do. Thank you Dimity x

  2. Our writer’s group in Cairns has been going since 2004 when six like-minded people got together to meet once a month. I have been on the committee for the past six years, the last three as president. We currently have 57 members. Due to the size of the group we now break into smaller groups of 4-6 for half of the meeting. These are broken up into genre e.g. novel, poetry, memoir, short story, children’s writing etc. There is also a ‘Random’ group for people who like to share a bit of everything. After afternoon tea we all get together again and one piece is selected by each group for ‘sharing’. Sometimes we dedicate the second half of the meeting to a particular topic e.g. publishing, grammar and punctuation tips, quizzes, guest speakers etc. We are currently publishing our 6th anthology. For our last anthology we engaged professional editors and opened the work up to other people in our community. This showed we are an ‘all inclusive’ group. The names were taken off and our secretary gave each piece a submission number so the work stood on its merits. The idea was to show members how the publication process works. The process resulted in a collective work that was of a really good standard. Collectively our group has staged three biennial Cairns Tropical Writer’s Festivals and are planning a fourth in 2014. The best thing about our group is that we have people from RUBY award winners and others who have been published worldwide to those just starting out. Collectively we support each other in our need to write, whether it be for our own memoir or our first novel. The main thing is to make it FUN.

  3. I joined a writers group last month that had one spot open. They invited nearly five people to try out for this spot. They meet once a month, and they won’t let you know you have the spot until you make all three meetings. During this time you can’t hand in any of your samples. You basically sit at the meeting and listen to all the established members critique their work.

    Instead of having fun and talking to people who like writing (and also getting my work critiqued), I’m in a constant flux of whether or not I should go to the meetings. I am in constant competition with the four other people for that one spot (one person who is actually a college english professor), and it causes unneeded stress.

    But half of the people in the group are editors for publishing company. Several have already published novels. The connections would be great to have, but I’m having a hard time balancing that with the stress this group is causing me.

    I am not afraid of being critiqued, in fact, I want someone to rip apart my work (but nicely, please!).

    Is this just the wrong writer’s group for me, despite the great connections in the publishing world I can make?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience, Carol.

    I love hearing about vibrant, active writing groups like yours.

    It’s always interesting to hear how other writer’s groups work. The ones like yours where you have a format and a theme seem to work the best.

    Good luck with your 6th anthology.

    Happy writing:)

    Dee

  5. Hi Franco,

    This is certainly a tricky dilemma.

    I guess when coming to your decision you have to look at why you want to be in a writer’s group in the first place. Is it to make the right connections or is it because you want to have fun or is it a combination of the two?

    This ‘selection process’ is stressful and may seem a bit pointless, but I know that when you have an established writer’s group that’s working really well, it can be important to find the ‘right person’ – otherwise the fabric of the whole group can be destroyed. I have been in a writer’s group where a new member has completely taken over and antagonised other members and in the end, the group folded. In a writer’s group, balance and trust are so important so I’m guessing this is what the group is trying to work out with their selection process. Although to be honest, if you’re not involved in the critiquing, I’m not sure how much they can tell what sort of person or writer you are.

    It could well be that this group is worth persevering with – that if you are accepted into it, then you will find things relax a bit more.

    If it were me, I would be thinking, I really have nothing to lose by trying to join this group. The worst that can happen is that I don’t get accepted or I do get accepted but it’s not for me (in which case you leave). The best that can happen is that being part of this group is fulfilling and rewarding and leads to me getting published and make long time friends and contacts.

    I’m sure you have your own unique qualities and talents (which is why you have been invited to try out) so try not to be intimidated by the college professor.

    I hope this is helpful. I’ll be interested to hear how it all works out.

    Good luck:)

    Dee

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