I would like to say that I have a ritual when it comes to writing, that I have the cure-all for writer’s block, or that the muse of writing is always by my side. But that just doesn’t happen. Most days, I am writing into the night laying in bed, trying to get my thoughts down before I become too tired to type. And sometimes the muse is there, but the words just don’t come out right and I feel as though everything I have ever learned about writing flies out the window in my head. Nothing works, and I sit staring at the page riddled with a mess of present and past tenses. I don’t know how to fix it.
This is where my writing group comes in.
Most every Sunday evening I carpool with a friend up to my sister’s house. With a few snacks and tea and coffee, we sit down and write. Well, sometimes. For me this isn’t where I get more than a few lines of writing down. It’s actually the worst place for me to get any writing done.
Instead, I inhale the ideas circulating the room and join in on the conversations that occur. Anything can happen. One moment we’ll be talking about the methodology of mythical gods and creatures and the next we’ll be discussing philosophical notions of the sexes.
I love it.
While I might not have actually written one word at these write-ins, the words that fly out of my fingers afterwords is magic. This happened just last week. I was discussing the misgivings I had regarding my WIP, and with just a few words of encouragement from my friend I was able to write a whole chapter that night, throwing all my reservations out the window.
Taking advantage of a writer’s group is extremely helpful, and I know it makes my writing better even though I don’t always see it at the time.
A writing group can help point out inconsistencies in your work, provide encouragement, ask questions and hold you accountable to your writing. Are you interested in joining your own writing group? The resources below are just a few place to start your search.
These were discovered on TheWriteLife.com (which is an amazing writer’s resource) from the article Want to Join A Writing Group? by Lorena Knapp.
1. Local writing centers and communities
Usually a quick Internet search with your city and “writing groups” will yield some results. Attend the group, meeting, or class and see if the group feels like a good fit.
Sharing your contact information with other writing conference attendees is a great way to expand your writing community. I was invited to join my current writing group after meeting a member at a writing retreat.
3. Bulletin boards
There is still a lot to be said for this old school method of finding people! Post a sign at your favorite coffee shop, outside the writing department at your local college, or even on Craigslist. Create a process for vetting individuals or groups to determine if they are a good fit for your writing style – or not.
4. Writing associations
Professional associations such as Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America have chapters throughout the country. Check their sites for directories to find other members in your local area.
5. People you already know
Many people want to write a book. Eowyn Ivey, shortlisted for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize with her first novel, The Snow Child, exchanged work on a weekly basis with her mother, Julie Hungiville Lemay, an accomplished poet.
Most of us don’t come from writer families, but this doesn’t matter; the key is establishing a routine for a regular exchange of work. It can often be easier with someone with whom you have weak ties. Consider coworkers, neighbors, or acquaintances.
This online service connects local people with similar interests ranging from Spanish literature to Scrabble. If there isn’t a writing group in your city, start your own – or hold virtual meetings and exchange work via email.
7. Online critique groups
Multiple online services are available and are often set up as an exchange: you must critique others’ work to have your own critiqued. Though they are often free, you may need to pay for for full access or an unlimited number of critiques. Some groups to check out: Critique Circle, Review Fuse, Scribophile and Ladies Who Critique.
One thing to keep in mind is that the readers in each group may or may not be your target audience. While I was pleased with my experience on Scribophile, there was a higher proportion of men than women and a higher ratio of fantasy writers compared to other genres.
8. Social media
Social media is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and find potential writing group members. Try these: LinkedIn Groups for Writers, Facebook Groups for Writers, Goodreads Writing Groups and Twitter Lists for Writers.
Or you can just put out a call on your own social networks that you’re starting a writing group. You might be surprised who responds!
Finding a writing group takes time but it is well worth it to have the support, feedback and encouragement a group provides.
What do You Think?
What are your thoughts on writing groups? Do you do better on your own? Do you already have a group of writers you go to for inspiration? Leave a comment below.