Writing Groups: Yea or Nay?

writing, groups, writer, author, bookAllison asks an excellent question in her blog post; okay, there are two questions, not one. Do you belong to a writers group? Do you like it? I know there are many opinions out there – some are pro writing groups and others are anti-writing groups. Let’s give Allison some honest feedback, both the good and the bad. I’m of the mindset that writers help writers. Allison asks a question that perhaps many writers, at all levels, have asked.

6 thoughts on “Writing Groups: Yea or Nay?

  1. My opinion on writing groups is very strong and positive. In my late thirties, I realized how badly I wanted to get back into creative writing–I’d done quite a bit of it in high school and college, but had taken a LONG break for various reasons–and wasn’t sure how to start. Miraculously (perhaps) I saw a posting on my town’s email list from a person who wanted to start a writing group, and as a member of that group, I was able to pull together a terrible novel! Seriously, it was awful, but the group helped me realize that gently, and provided wonderful tips and guidance. So when that group disbanded, I immediately joined another one, and the members of that group helped me write the two novels I’ve now published. In fact, that group is meeting tomorrow and is critiquing a few chapters of my third novel. So yes to writing groups!!

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  2. Writing and critique groups can be tricky. If it’s a more formal, local group (here we have the Sudbury Writers’ Guild), there may be a membership fee to take into account. Most of these groups will be happy to let you attend a few meetings to see if you’re a fit for the social dynamic. They can offer a lot of benefits, though. For my nominal membership fee, I get access to 10 monthly meetings, including critique sessions and social events, news from the membership regarding their writing activities and connections, access to discounted writing workshops, and a network of people, like myself, who share conferences, conventions, workshops, and other professional development events. I’ve also joined or formed various informal writing and critique groups over the years. The most important thing is that the members all be on the same page with respect to the support and development of each member’s creative work. How can you critique each other’s work without offering empty platitudes or overly harsh commentary? Setting ground rules, helps. Also, if the writer lets the rest of the group know what they’re looking for, the session can be directed. For example, “This is a first draft of a short story. I don’t need spelling or grammar help on this one. They will both suck at this point. What I need is to know if the story is sound. Is there anything missing? Are there logical holes? Is my main character likeable?” etc. The key with any writing group is that you recognize when it’s not working for you, cut your losses, and make a graceful exit. Discuss it first, though. If you’re not getting what you need out of the group, it’s likely you’re not alone. Sometimes reinforcing norms or changing priorities can fix the problem.
    That’s all I got. Hope it helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on writers groups, Melanie. I believe you said it well when you wrote, “The key with any
      writing group is to recognize whe n it’s not working for you, cut your losses, and make a graceful exit.” The right fit is crucial to the success of the writer, as well as to the writer group. :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I left a much longer comment on her blog, but will say here that, yes, I’m generally in favor of writers groups. There are some bad ones, and some are run by overbearing writers who try to make everyone follow an arbitrary set of storytelling rules, but — for the most part — most are encouraging, challenging, and well worth the time.

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