One of the best decisions I’ve made about my writing career that’s helped in countless ways, is joining a writing group. In fact, I’m certain I wouldn’t have anything published yet, if I were on this journey alone.
I lucked into my writing group three years ago during a local writing conference. For a long time, it was just three of us (Margaret, Christy, and me), but today there are five of us. We added two new members (Sheryl and Nellie) within the last six months, which has created a new dynamic to the group, and keeps us busy. In brainstorming ideas for this post, it occurred to me that I know why I’m part of a writing group, but since I’m only one voice I asked my group some of the reasons they are part of a writing group.
If you’re a writer, and you’re not yet part of a writing group, I hope this post helps you understand the value of a group. In our discussion, with each of us having different personality types and vastly different writing goals, we all agreed, a writer needs to be part of a group too.
Writers have struggles that nearly all other writers can relate to, including writer’s block, insecurities, fears, an erratic rollercoaster of emotions, and for some an unquenchable passion for writing. In a writer’s group, you have people who understand your struggles because they’re living them too.
Nellie said she likes being in touch with other writers. “It’s depressing being on your own.”
Support in your writing goals, in editing, and your confidence are all perks to being part of a good writing group.
Christy mentioned that she enjoyed being part of a writing group because of the inspiration and camaraderie. I agree with her, I’ve tried so many new things with my writing as a result of being inspired by the work of my writing group and their encouragement. I can’t always count on myself for the push to write that I need, but I can always count on my group to create that excitement that pushes me forward.
Sheryl made an interesting point about a writing group being your audience to help focus your writing. “Writing gets better when you have an audience in mind. Audience is important to making your writing better.” A writing group helps your work take shape by offering specific advice that will actually get the piece published, she said.
By helping other writer’s with their work, you’ll get better at picking out certain errors that are easier to notice in other’s work, then you get better at noticing those errors in your own work.
Sheryl and Margaret collaborated and built on the idea that there’s something fulfilling about a writing group, that you’re doing something good – to share, to grow. It’s a wholesome thing to contribute to the growth of one another.
Committing to a writing group is another way to commit to your writing. A group makes you accountable. “Otherwise it’s easy not to write. It gives you structure and a sense of urgency to do it.” Sheryl
When you’re stuck, a great way to work through it is to discuss the problem with other people. Nellie said writing groups can help you work through the questions you have in your own head.
All writers have blind spots when it comes to their writing, and although there are some tricks to try to work through some of these on your own, nothing beats an outside perspective.
For example, sometimes you think you’re conveying a certain idea or image in your story and your readers don’t get that same idea or image. Your writing group will help you determine if you conveyed what you intended by the feedback you receive.
“It’s hard to write by yourself. You get too much in your own head. You have this story in your head, but it doesn’t always make it onto the page.” Christy
Christy also said that it’s easy for other writers to notice your bad habits, like overusing a certain word. They also notice when one of your characters is doing something that isn’t in line with their personality.
Margaret said that the reason she’s part of a writing group is because she believes in the process. “It’s important, internally, for some people to write, and they need feedback.”
Everyone’s take away from a writing group might be different. My own has to do with the editing that helps me make my stories truer to what I originally had in my head. The support and encouragement helps me push forward even on days when I’m not feeling so great about my writing. And my group pushes me to do what is in the best interest of my writing career, regardless if it scares me. But luckily, they help give me the courage to push ahead.
Nellie said that she walks away from the group knowing, “That I’ve shared something and others have shared with me.”
One final thought that I’ll leave you with on the importance of a writing group, comes from Sheryl. “It’s better than therapy. It’s intimate. You may not think you’re revealing anything about yourself, but you are.”