Thursday, April 28, 2011

Writing Groups

Somewhere in my mind I have it that I’ve done a post about this topic before. However, when looking through my archive, I can’t seem to find it. So, I’m writing this topic now, and if I have written about it before, please bear with me.

The subject of writing groups has been on my mind lately, and so I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts.

Quite a few writers I know, myself included, tend to think of writing as a solitary craft. We create alone. It’s just the way it works. When you ask a non-writer what they think of when they think of a writer, they imagine some middle aged man with a scarf around his neck, smoking a pipe in a cluttered room, hunched over a typewriter, punching at the keys furiously, and brows furrowed in concentration.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the traditional image of a writer does not include others.

And I’m here to say that this does not need to be the case.

True, the actual act of writing is usually done alone, at your keyboard. In my case, usually late at night when the wife and boy are in bed. However, even this doesn’t need to be the case. In NaNoWriMo, every year, they organize ‘write-ins,’ where groups of novelests get together to write in a public space. Sometimes, it’s quite as everyone types. But most of the time, at least in my few experiences with these, people are talking, sharing ideas, getting feed back and having word wars. It’s actually a pretty social activity. And imagine having fun while getting your word count up. Who could pass up on that?

But write-ins are an odd and unusual method of writing. So I won’t get into them more here. What I’m really here to talk about is writing groups. This is when you gather a group of fellow writers (or join an existing group), and then show them our stuff so they can tear it apart.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

No, seriously, it does. The goal of a writing group is to help everyone there become better writers. And I know that I am always striving to be a better writer. Tighten up my prose, write better characters, discover new ways to describe things that make it more clear than my initial pass. And that’s where writing groups help out.

Right now, I’m working on a joint project with some friends, and as such we’re sharing our stuff with each other. We get and give feedback to each other, and it’s great. And I’m wondering if I can talk these two friends of mine to making this a full on writing group, and not limited to just the current project. And the best part of this group is that, thanks to the power of the internet, we can do this despite the fact that two of us are in California, and one is in Wisconsin.

But in addition to this new joy in my life, I am thinking of joining a face to face group right here in my home town. I love the idea of getting good feedback from live people, people that may not even really know me or my style. I love the idea of growing as a writer with these people, and watching them grow as well. It’s an exciting prospect.

I’ve not had any real experience with these kinds of groups before, but I’m told from others that have that it’s well worth it. I’m still a little nervous, and also concerned about finding the time to join a regular group, but I’m moving towards commitment with this. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, I would love to hear about your experiences with writing groups. Where they good? Did they help you get better? What would you do different next time?

Until tomorrow, keep on remembering the future!

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