Sunday, November 02, 2014

The Weekend Writer: At Some Point, You Might Be Interested In Joining A Writers' Group

When you've been writing for a while, studying for a while, attending workshops and/or classes for a while, you may start thinking about finding a writers' group to become part of. If for no other reason, you're going to be hearing about how wonderful they are. You're going to read author notes in which writers are filled with gratitude for members of their writers' groups.

Well, I've been a member of three writers' groups, and I can tell you there are writers' groups, and there are writers' groups.

The first one I was part of was small and made up of published children's writers who met in the writers' homes. It was terrific for networking, but I can't say I got a lot out of  it in terms of my writing. It dissolved after only four months. continues to meet and no one told me. I have wondered.

The second writers' group I joined was a mixed bag as far as genre is concerned and met at a chain bookstore. I was the only published writer. One member was a very active SCBWI member who went on to publish a  well received children's book and is quite successful. Another member attended a day program at a local writers' conference one summer. This group met twice a month and required a lot of time outside the meeting for reading and preparing feedback. There was little helpful critiquing. Because of the time commitment and the lack of benefit, I left and that is how things stood for six to eight years.

As part of my interest in the benefits of community for writers, I decided to take a shot at joining another group. I stumbled upon one nearby that's connected with the NESCBWI and have been to two meetings.

What a difference. All the members I've met to date are "trained" even though they aren't published. They attend NESCBWI and SCBWI programs and know how to critique. They bring back info from programs they attend, talk about writing books they've read. The quality of the story ideas they're dealing with is far beyond what I recall at other groups I've attended, as is the quality of the writing.

So far, this is a stimulating experience. But it took me three shots to find this. Like me, you may find that
you have to keep trying.

You can always consider starting your own writers' group. How to Build a Writing Group in Your Community by Nathaniel Kressen at Jane Friedman can offer some help with that.


tanita✿davis said...

I always joke that I went and got my MFA just to find a writing group... but it's not a joke. That stuff's hard, and finding people trained to critique and with whom you "click" is harder, which is why our group still meets online regardless of one of us moving to DC, the other moving to Texas, and me moving to Scotland for five years. I hope this group continues to work for you.

Gail Gauthier said...

The article I linked to said something about finding writing groups through MFA programs.