Cheryl Strayed on her writers’ group

I recently read 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed and followed up the book by reading some interviews. In one, Cheryl touches on the importance of belonging to a writer's group and I though it highly relevant.

I think the first thing—if you want to be a writer—the first thing you need to do is write. Which sounds like an obvious piece of advice. But so many people have this feeling they want to be a writer and they love to read but they don’t actually write very much. The main part of being a writer, though, is being profoundly alone for hours on end, uninterrupted by email or friends or children or romantic partners and really sinking into the work and writing. That’s how I write. That’s how writing gets done.

But that can be such a lonely endeavor that I do think community is also important. I have a writer’s group now in Portland, Oregon, where I live. Twenty years ago Amitava and I and this other woman named Trish would get together at cafes and exchange work and read to each other and give each other little bits of encouragement and feedback and thoughts. I think that’s an incredibly rich experience because what it does is it gives you a sense of community but also purpose. If I know I’m going to meet you in a cafe next Tuesday, I’m going to write something that I can hand to you. Discipline is such a challenge for so many writers and so I think that that’s a key benefit of being in a group.

from Redeemed by Amitava Kumar, published at Guernica.


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