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Writing Groups: Why we need them

If you’re anything like me, some of the simple things about writing, which seem obvious now, were once an enigma. For example; I didn’t have a clue about basic formatting when I started. Several years back, I spent many, unhappy, hours editing two, novel-length, manuscripts after I learned about double-spacing.

Had I the sense to seek out a good writing group when I started, I might have avoided some of the classic errors made in the first 'draft' of my novel, Fur-Face, which included just about every rookie mistake on the technical, storytelling, and grammar ‘How to write wrong’ lists.

That said, no matter where you are in your writerly career, I believe you can benefit from belonging to a good writing/critique group.

Take the GSHW for example. New writers – at least, new writers who are prepared to accept that they don’t know half as much as they think they know – can learn the most fundamental ‘tricks’ of the trade from the group’s more experienced members, who, in turn, learn some of the finer skills of the craft from better writers in the organization and the many guest speakers who appear at our meetings throughout the year.

But it’s not just about improving our skills. On-line groups are fantastic, but, for me at least, they can’t hold a candle to a good in-person one. It’s a wonderful thing to walk into a room full of like-minded people and know that you’re not the only one who spends hour after hour typing out stories which no one but your long-suffering spouse may ever read.

Of course, you have to do your bit too. You don’t have to be a good writer to make a positive difference to a writing group. You never know how much a friendly greeting or a word of encouragement can mean to someone who’s wondering if he/she will ever see their name in print and on the verge of giving up.

Whether on-line or in-person, a good writing group gives you a sense of belonging, a feeling that, wherever you are on your journey, however far you still have to go, you’re at least heading in the right direction, and the path ahead is well-lit, well-trodden, and lined with folks prepared to help you along.

Writing is by nature a solitary business, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it alone.

How about you?

Do you belong to a writing group?

What do you get out of it?

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(Deleted comment)
Dec. 5th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
"Some stories just feel like they're at the right place to me, and the few times I've thrown that kind of story to a group, it ended up not being particularly helpful."

I once submitted such a story to a group, not knowing there were three women in the group who did not want negative feedback on their own work, but were quite free with offering it. On a story I was happy with, one that the group (almost) as a whole thought ready for submission, one of these ladies absolutely NEEDED to find something wrong. What did she find? "I don't like the POV character's name. A name can really turn people off."

Sigh--I didn't last long there.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 5th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
So far--in face to face groups--I've mostly found both those who find fault simply to find fault, and those who praise everything; very few in between. I've not had great luck with face2face groups. My online community, however, rocks my world.
Dec. 5th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
I try to find something to praise, but if people just want to be told they've written something wonderful that can't be improved, they came to the wrong place as far as I'm concerned.

As for the negative Nellies, I've been known to call them out when needed :)
Dec. 5th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
You are your old gran's grandson, after all.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 7th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
but...what...huh??? That's just nuts.
Dec. 5th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
'...what started out as the right group becomes the wrong group'

To a certain extent, I think that's what happened with me at The Monmouth Writers. While there was another contributing factor, I'd already given up on one of their monthly meetings when I decided to stop attending the other. I still keep in touch though (I run their website and Yahoo group), but the GSHW is a much better fit for me.

Thanks for sharing :)

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

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