As a writer, the best thing you can do is get involved in your local scene and a writers’ group is as personal and local as it gets. For many writers, their groups contain their first readers, their most avid cheerleaders, supporters and their alpha consumers so it pays to make that investment of time and energy.
So, why should writers join a group?
You get feedback on your work! This is awesome because once you start writing, you quickly realise how hard it is to get good feedback. Your friends try, they really do, but nothing matches the focused attention of a group. They gather with the sole purpose of diving into your world and giving feedback!
- Develop skills
Not only will you begin to see your own strengths and weaknesses reflected in the feedback from others, you’ll also develop your own abilities in critiquing story. You’ll learn how to read analytically and this will inform your own writing process. Very exciting!
When I ask my group members why they keep coming, one of the most important reasons is the support they receive and the emotional connections within the group. A group becomes like a family (a functional, healthy one!) and members look forward to catching up with each other and hearing everyone’s progress. The support is also handy when dealing with rejections or disappointments. It’s a part of the writing life and having a network in those times is priceless.
When a group works together for long enough, individuals begin to understand each other and can see what they’re trying to achieve in their work. Out of this unity, other projects will often materialize and the opportunities for collaboration between members in the group is a huge advantage. Some groups have published anthologies together, written serials together and even created podcasts.
This one deserves a mention on its own because when you get a bunch of writers together in a room to talk story, you can bet the discussion is going to be stimulating. I don’t know anyone who leaves our group meetings feeling flat. Often, we leave pumped and ready to attack the next challenge in our own work due to the ideas and the energy in the room during our meeting. Not only do I feel re-energised for my work, it’s my motivation too. Seeing other writers press on, it motivates me to do the same.
These are a handful of reasons why writing groups rock but leading a group is another challenge in itself and I always encourage writers to start their own. It forces you to step it up and allows you an opportunity to share your own knowledge and passion for writing. But that’s for another post…