Why Every Wanna-be Writer Should Be in a Writers Group

Aug 20, 2009

You think you can go it alone.

But you’re wrong. You can’t.

Okay, so maybe you can, but it won’t be nearly as productive. Or fun. You may be the most talented writer the world has ever known. A thousand stories may be hiding in that fabulous little brain of yours waiting to be told. No doubt you’ve been writing since chubby little toddler fingers could hold one of those gigantic pencils. And I’m sure you have the cream of the crop laptop with all the apps and connections you could possibly ever need.

So what. Doesn’t matter. All the skill in the world can’t replace the benefits of investing yourself in community of writers. Talent is good. But couple that with the synergy of writers working together, and there’s no stopping you.

Accountability: Let’s face it. Sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants. Or whack upside the head. You say you want to be a writer, but distractions and responsibilities suck up your free time and, before you know it, you haven’t eeked out ten words in weeks. A good writers group will pick up on this, lovingly smack you around for it, and then help you figure out how to get back on track. It’s accountability wearing a thick coat of love and grace. Being a part of a writing community comes with the expectation that it’s members will write. The type and amount of writing will vary from person to person, and will sometimes change according to life seasons. Still, merely being a part of the group will be tremendous motivation for following through on your dream.

Camaraderie: More than a kick in the pants, most authors need a cheerleader. Someone to give them the extra fuel to get in the last 300 words for the day. Or fine-tune that proposal. Or reinvent those characters. Writing is arduous, and far more painful and exacting than giving birth, often without the joy of a beautiful baby on the other end of the agony. Your husband and children may not understand, but fellow writers do. They’ve been there, and know the reality of the temptation to quit. And they’ll be the first to say “Don’t give up!” and “You have what it’s takes” and You’re not alone.” More times than I can recount, a well-timed email, text or chunk of time with a fellow writer fueled me to press forward on a day when I nearly gave it all up.

Expertise: The craft of writing is never truly mastered, any more than knowing how to respond to weather makes you the master of the storm. Writing is an art, a unique expression of our creative souls. It is a dynamic, rather than a static process, meaning that you, as the writer, will always need to be a student of it’s expression in an ever-changing market. Connecting with a group of writers, many of whom will have complimentary areas of expertise, will put you in the ideal environment to learn and stretch as both an artist and business person. You will discover nuances in your writing that need to be corrected, and better define your strengths.

I know you’re busy. Your schedule doesn’t allow for one more commitment. I hear you. But when it comes to the benefits of being in a writers group, I know what I’m talking about. Quit you’re arguing. Find a writers group. Get connected. Develop a schedule and forum that works for you, whether it’s once a quarter, once a month or once a week, online or in person. And then STICK WITH IT. The benefits of being a part of a writers group multiply over the length of time and the quality of your investment.

4 Comments

  1. Julian

    Michele,

    You have a very bold and brutally honest way of appealing to young writers who think they’re the best and have that ‘lone ranger’ attitude.

    I’ve just graduated from high school and no one has prepared me for the uncertainty that comes with the appeal of being free from it. I’m someone who has been writing since I was capable enough to write, but the truth is that two brains working together can almost always produce more creative results.

    And not only that, working with someone helps you emotionally. For me personally I would rather prefer working with someone, so if I fail we fail and learn to pick ourselves up together.

    I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I want to work as a group because working alone is too lonely, it’s too impersonal, and I feel like I have enough time to get anywhere if I did it alone. And when left alone I don’t have any more excuses why I can’t come up with anything.

    And that’s another significant point, I’m just about at the end of my teen years and I know my ideas suck. My writing may not suck, but I really lack the experience and wisdom to produce anything of value; for now it will all have to be for myself. But that’s fine.

    Anyway, your points are well taken. Thanks for posting this succinct and true statement about teamwork.

    Reply
  2. Chrystie

    Thanks for the kick in the pants! I needed to hear this today!

    Reply
  3. Susan

    I wish your writer’s group had a webcam or teleconference. I’m in a remote part of the country now, and regular face to face meetings are impractical. I’m really going to miss you guys, for I grew and learned a lot. Though I try to keep up reading blogs – it’s not the same.
    Susan

    Reply
  4. Michele

    Julian, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your perspectives on the writing journey. Thank you. I hope my boldness didn’t cross the line to abrasive. Not my goal … I merely know my propensity toward independence, and the beauty I miss when I don’t allow others to share the journey with me.

    One more thing … KEEP WRITING. Your ideas don’t “suck.” They’re simply the first pangs on the journey to birth something truly great. You have much life left to be lived, and many stories yet to tell. Be true to your passion and heart. The best is yet to come!

    Reply

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