1. jedi
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    jedi New Member

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    Writing Groups

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jedi, Jan 29, 2011.

    Hello -
    Are many of you involved in non-online writing groups or clubs? I am new to this venture and thought it might be a good way to dip my toes in the water.

    If anyone knows of something local to western mass (amherst mass area) I would appreciate the information.

    thanks
    jeff
     
  2. Jonias
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    Jonias Member

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    I was, but it wasn't my style. Where I went, you could bring in work to read if you wanted, but it mostly seemed to be word prompts and leaned towards extemporaneous poetry. If you're good at writing off the cuff and like doing that sort of thing, great (I'm best at doing comedy this way, personally), but I'm more of a story writer than a poet personally, and being told to sit down and write without thinking about the characters and plot first isn't really my thing. I like to see the end from the beginning. (Some of the word games we played were fun, though...I liked it when it had a more comedic bent, even though I don't usually write humor).

    A circle to share writing sounds fun, though. I've always wanted to join one of those.
     
  3. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    Ugh, just spent my entire undergraduate education in workshops. I'm not in a rush to join a writer's group any time soon. The workload was exhausting. But I suppose that's because I had other classes to worry about. These forums are a lot more relaxed, but live groups usually expect you to turn something in every week or two, so it's good if you're the kind of person who likes deadlines.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    writing is, by its very nature, a solitary occupation... to plunk oneself down in a group of similarly clueless beginning writers is counterproductive, imo...you won't find any pros there, so it's usually just a matter of the blind leading the blind...

    as a longtime mentor of would-be writers of all breeds, i never recommend joining a writing group, though in some cases, i do suggest taking a good writing course, if basic skills are lacking...

    instead, i recommend constant reading of the works of the very best writers [both contemporary and the classics, most respected of all eras], to absorb/learn what good writing looks/sounds/feels like... and, of course, constant practice...
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually will depend on your area, some areas do have good writing groups, that run literary and book festivals etc. My local bookgroups have a number of pubished writers, couple of journalists, actors etc just by virtue of where I live.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I normally agree with you, and definitely do with the reading part, but writing groups and communities are essential in the development of writers, imo. It's actually a huge thing that's been lost in recent generations, in particular with so much formal writing instruction and online writing sites. It gives the appearance of a writing community, but usually it doesn't function as one could and should. (it's like how email and Facebook give the feeling of connectedness between people, but actually foster disconnection).

    Writing groups aren't to get advice. That's the major flaw in thinking these days. People join writing sites online to ask for advice, find mentors to ask for advice, take classes to get advice... and join writing groups for advice. But the best use isn't getting advice, but sharing ideas and building on each others knowledge base.

    This is a huge [somewhat recent] focus of research in teaching fields. They've found groups are an amazing resource for reinforcing what we know, and collectively leading to knew knowledge. Instead of the teacher or mentor or published author or even agent telling us what we should know, which often only teaches current knowledge, group/community work can lead to new insights that become future knowledge.

    And it's no wonder that so many great writers were attached to writing movements (which you don't really see or hear about anymore) or had other close writers they matured with. Very rarely are successful writers those that simply had a knack for stories, so secluded themselves and wrote. Almost always, even though it doesn't seem evident at first, writers are involved in sharing ideas and pooling knowledge and building on the efforts of others. Not only by reading and studying, which teaches us past knowledge, but by creating future knowledge in contemporary groups and communities.

    And, writers need support. One of the best benefits of a writing groups is having support, both professional and personal, and having deadlines, and expectations.

    There is obviously a huge benefit to having an expert at one's disposal, and writing does take a lot of personal effort, but discounting the benefits of groups and communities isn't wise. And research across the board these days, across fields and professions, is showing working with groups and being a part of a relevant community is what I would almost consider vital, even in fields that seem solitary once the person has 'made it' and has to do by themselves what they learned to do with the help of communities.

    The hard thing, and the reason I believe so many just go with the perspective that writers + groups aren't meant to be, is that it's HARD to get writers to join and stay involved. Partially because so many people think they can and are expected to do it all on their own, and partially because writers are a finicky lot. In the end too many writers I talk to fall into the 'groups are no good' when really they're just hard to maintain, especially these days when so many people are isolated and disconnected, especially writers.

    These days, we wouldn't have the Beat poets, for instance, because they'd all be trading opinions online and thinking it's such a bother to actually converse about writing and ideas, and that writing is such a solitary thing to be done on one's own, etc. We'd probably just have a couple of people forgot by history who had their own little style that nobody knew or cared about aside from a few blog entries with 2 follows, both family.

    Okay, maybe a little bleak, but still.

    I recently talked to someone who has a radio show interviewing writers. She talked to a local writer who's in his 70s I think and has done a ton for writers and writing, published double digit books, acclaim, started a literary center, extremely well respected. And when asked if he regretted anything, he said far too late in life did he realize the importance of talking to other writers. He just sat in his office writing, ending up quite successful, but then late in life realized, in his opinion, he'd been doing it all wrong the entire time and should have focused more on communities of writers a lot sooner, which is what led to the literary center and a writing guild, etc.

    But I dunno, it's all so subjective and personal, everyone has their own way, etc, etc.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I certainly haven't made my writing a solitary experience - I have grabbed help and advice in many areas from wherever it came. Thanks to the help of many people (my book is gonna need an acknowledgement chapter lol) I have a great story i couldn't have written solo.

    CS Lewis and Tolkein certainly didn't. Lewis Carroll had several close writing friends including Tennyson etc
     

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