I have tried being in a writing group a few times, and wrote them off, no pun intended.
But apparently, I just hadn’t found a good fit! I know this after recently joining a writing group with real merit for me.
Surprisingly, I noticed some of the things I thought mattered really didn’t and vice versa. For example, one might assume you should have writers working on similar types of books in your group. I don’t think that’s necessarily so. This morning, I decided to further articulate some reasons why this latest writing group experience was different and better:
- Focus, Goals, and Some Sense of Urgency. In this latest group, we are all really different with really different projects. I pondered why it felt so cohesive and realized it may be because of where we met. We all took the initiative to attend a local writers’ conference. We are all people actively pursuing writing. Even if we started as hobbyists, we are hobbyists no more! We all have a real project and goal in sight. It showed, compared to other groups I’ve been part of.
- Passion and Some Sense of Camaraderie. A writing group should inspire you. You should feel more energy about writing when you leave a writing group session.
- Preparation. Even though this was our first meeting, one of our members suggested we all email our excerpts beforehand. Contrast this with others I’ve been to, where everyone stopped and read repeatedly. This meant better comments, less fatigue, and stronger feedback.
- Dedicated Meeting Space. I’ve met writers’ groups in noisy restaurants. I’ve even met with a writer’s group in a barn. The library was much better!
- Respectful Yet Honest Critique. Nothing was personal or ego-driven, either when giving or receiving criticism. No one was there for only validation, making them closed off to improvement.
- Fairness and Order. Some writers’ groups become a spotlight on one author’s manuscript. We used a timer and gave everyone ten minutes.
- Flexible Frequency. Everyone in the group has a busy schedule and some people wanted to meet more than once a month. We organized optional virtual meetings in between our main monthly meeting.
- Duration. We kept the meeting to about 3 hours. I absorbed all this brain could possibly absorb and still made it home in time to see the new episode of Elementary. Win.
The only thing missing were treats (library policy)!
I truly felt benefited by working with the other writers in my group and am just rarrin’ to write this morning as a result! Writer’s groups can actually be productive. Who knew?!