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Writing Groups: #1: The Benefits of Community

Writing GroupsShould you or shouldn’t you . . . join a writing group?

That is a question you really have to ask yourself. Many people work alone and don’t need connection to or the camaraderie of other people. Sometimes art does flourish in solitude and solitary pursuit. More often, however, as proved by various artist and literary movements throughout history, people benefit  greatly from sharing ideas, support, friendship and shared resources. I will be offering ideas and choices in the next few posts on the following questions that you need to concern yourself with before seeking out a writing group.

1. What kind of writing group do I want?

Writing groups come in all kinds of flavors. So you have to ask yourself what kind of interaction you want:

  • Do you want one where people meet face-to-face to read and critique each other’s work? (Critique Group)
  • Or do you want  a group that meets online, and people share their opinions on a message board or via an email chain? (Online Group)
  • Or do you want a Writer’s Support Group where you meet the like-minded to share your work and resources like markets, marketing ideas and challenges? (Writers’ Support Group)

2. What do you want out of your Writing Group?

What are your reasons for joining such a group?  Sometimes before seeking out new relationships of any sort, is helpful to ask yourself what you want and perhaps why you want such an interaction:

  • Are you feeling isolated and want interaction with people who have the same passion?
  • Do you feel your work needs improvement and would benefit from being critiqued?
  • Do you need help figuring out how to submit your work to markets and where to look for places to place your work?
  • Are you looking for something else less tangible?

 3.  After I join such a group what do I do? What do people expect?

  • After you join the group, what you get out if it is up to you.
  • You offer your work  for others to see, in the format that the group prefers.
  • If you get good critiques, you should give them nd return the favor.
  • Keep things positive and make the group about people’s work rather than personalities.

The next article in this series will deal with accepting criticism from other writers. How do you know the advice you are getting is right? What happens when writing groups are destructive rather than constructive, etc.

In conclusion,  I believe that like everything else in life, you get out of a writing group and a relationship with other people, what you put into it. The Golden Rule pretty much applies to most things in life. I am lucky and  belong to a very positive writers’ support group, one where I can call nearly everybody a great friend. I have been a member of this group since 1998.

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Love it Pam. Way to go.

  2. Not every group is for every writer – but when you find the right one — it can be magic

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