I've been writing a lot lately in this blog about getting, or staying in the writing frame of mind. For me that's obviously really important right now, but today I want to talk a little bit about real life writing groups. Specifically some of the reasons why you should join, and should stick with a group, even if it's not your cup of tea, or you feel like you've out grown the group, or maybe don't mesh well with a few of the people in said group.
Back in 2011 I decided I really wanted to write, more to the point I decided I wanted to get better at the craft in order to write good complete stories. For me this had been a long, long road. Late in the same year I ran into a client at work who was head of a local newspaper in the next town over. She really is a lovely lady, and as she saw me working on a piece at work in some down time, she asked if I'd like to read a novel she'd been working on for critique. I was amazed anyone would ask, so I agreed. Based on the critique I gave her I was asked to join the local writer's group, and have been a member ever since.
For better or worse, local writer's groups can be a miracle for the aspiring or new writer, but they are not limited to newbies. You'd be surprised how many small town communities actually do have writer's groups. I was amazed to learn that fifty miles from me, one of the oldest US writer's groups is still alive and kicking. So I would recommend that anyone who is interested in writing groups reach out to local community colleges, and libraries in your area to see if any locally are available. There is no substitute, even online in a great community such as this, for meeting with like minded people in an face to face setting.
You maybe thinking, I'm a writer, I like to watch people but don't feel like interacting with other people. Or my favorite excuse: Other writer's will kill my creativity and try to change my voice.
Writer's groups don't really work that way. They're only as valuable or altering to you as you the writer are willing to let them be. All any critique ever really amounts to is a suggestion from a reader/writer to the author. That's it. There are no laws that say once you get feedback you have to follow it. But please make no mistake, if you really want to seriously change your writing for the better you SHOULD be in a writing group.
As any of you who routinely read my stuff know, my grammar is NOT the best. I'm the first person to point this out, and I know it is a weak point for me as a writer, but imagine how bad it was when I started? Imagine how lack luster my descriptions were, in fact you don't have to imagine, many of my first feeble attempts at short stories are in fact still in the archive. I'm not saying that as a shameless plug for my work, simply pointing out how far my work has come thanks in large part to both the community here, and my rl writing group.
But sometimes we do out grow our groups. I rarely can keep myself in the writer's mind set long enough to
get much work done. I'm one of the biggest writing slackers I think I know. But if you talk to my rl writing group, who only gets to see me once a month, you'd think I was as prolific as a big name author. I'm not. I go days, weeks, even sometimes months with out writing more than a page or two. But I do make sure to take at least three pages with me to every meeting.
Why? Because at the heart of any good writing group, it's about the work. Your writing can't improve if your not critiquing other peoples work, and having your's critiqued as well. So even when it's down to the wire, I make sure I have stuff to take in. The group as a whole only benefits from reviewing what someone is willing to share. It's a safe place to air work before it's ready and to polish the craft. At the end of the day that's what most of us want and need. To work on our craft.
So in closing, if your not already a member of a real life writing group, or don't have a group online you consistently share work with, you maybe missing out. If you'd like recommendations for good beta readers on the site who give great critique I'm more than happy to help, just message me. I do also do critiques when asked or when posting in the forum section, it's only fair to critique others before posting your own work.
Anyway, I think that's enough of a rant for now. -Corbyn
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