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?