Why Join a Writing Group?
There are so many benefits to being in a writing group!
I am an extremely shy introvert. So, joining not one, but two, writing groups was perhaps the most difficult, terrifying thing I’ve ever done. My goal is to be a good writer though. I don’t want to embarrass myself by publishing something that is terrible, so I must get feedback from other people.
I found my first writing group through Meetup. (I’ll talk more about how to find a writing group later in this series.)
I went to the coffee shop and saw a bunch of people together with laptops. I figured that was the group, but I was too scared. I sat at another table with my coffee and spent the next 20 minutes working up the courage to go over and ask if they were the group. Then I was brought into the fold.
Writing groups are an excellent way to throw out crazy ideas and see what resonates. Your group gets to know your characters. They get to know you and how your brain works. When I ask my non-writer friends about an idea, they quite often just agree with me. They are far too nice. Because my writing group friends know me so well, they are not afraid to tell me when an idea is too far out there. Plus their knowledge of writing allows them to explain why an idea may or may not work for readers.
My writing group has a diverse group of people with many different backgrounds. (medical, historical, technical, teachers, and more) They are an invaluable resource for when you have questions and need educated opinions. Together we help each other solve countless problems and plotholes in our stories.
The feedback from my writing group is the most valuable. Many readers will read something and tell you if they like it or not. They can’t always accurately tell you why the writing works or what is broken. A good writing group will have the knowledge to tell you why something is working or not. I have learned so much from their feedback, and I believe I’m a better writer because of them.
My critique group is particularly good at this. I feel the need to have something to present to them. I could go and just listen to others read, but I prefer to have something to share. My social group doesn’t put on any pressure but will ask what I’ve been working on lately. It is more fun if I do have a current project to talk about with others.
It is Fun and Energizing
Speaking of fun… The most important reason for being in a writing group is because it is fun. I write because I enjoy doing it, um, most of the time. It is not as fun when I paint myself into a corner. When I get in that situation, I’m tempted to toss the whole project. My group not only helps me fix it but gives me the encouragement I need. I have a major case of I’m-not-good-enough. They help me keep everything in perspective.
For my social writing group, we quite often sit around and talk about our characters, or talk about life in general. We laugh together. We vent. We cry together. We worry. We compare notes. We celebrate. All of this is energizing and often provide snippets of inspiration so that when I get home I feel like staying up all night writing.