Friday, April 28, 2017

On the benefits of writing groups

Image result for writing group comic
If you don’t have a writing group, you need one. In addition to being ridiculously fun to have regular get-togethers with interested and motivated people, writing groups can help you a ton for a lot of reasons.
  1. Writing groups hold you accountable - If you’re meeting with people regularly and telling them about your writing, you’re going to feel the need to keep up. In her memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost), goddess of geekiness Felicia Day talks about how meeting with a group about their creative projects motivated her to finally write her acclaimed web series “The Guild” - and she even roped some people from the group in to help create it. In my writing group, we have weekly goals and we report on these goals at the beginning of each meeting. It can be difficult to explain why you didn’t get that chapter written, but it’s excellent motivation to do more work before the next meeting.
  2. Writing groups give you a ton of beta readers - With a writing group, you automatically have a handful of folks who will review your work and give you the necessary feedback. While your significant other might only give your work glowing reviews, your writing buddies will be harsher with you - partly because they understand being in your shoes and they want you to be just as honest with them. And let’s be real - that honesty will make your work better and it will push you to be a better writer. Even if you don’t accept all their feedback, it’s useful to hear because you may hear something similar from a publisher or from other beta readers further down the path.
  3. Writing groups let you really discuss your work - In a writing group, you’re meant to discuss your work and why you’re excited about it and why this is the story you have to tell. Here is a group of people who understand your passion (even if theirs is centered on their own work and passions). Talking about your work forces you to really think about it and make some snap decisions about your characters and world. Also, in discussing your work, it’s useful to have people to point out inconsistencies in your world, your work, your philosophies, your characterizations, etc.
  4. Writing groups encourage really ridiculous conversations - These are real quotes from my writing group meetings: “I don’t think you should have plant magic powers because that would get rid of most of your menial labor needs, which is a big deal in a medieval society.” and “Well, if you’re stuck, the robot could stumble onto some corporate espionage. That would make things interesting.” and “If I understand your world correctly, your 19 year olds should all be married off at this point so the attendance at this matchmaking ball is going to be a lot less than you’re describing here.” and “Oh my word. I can’t decide if I love him or hate him but I’M FEELING SO MANY THINGS.” It’s beyond bizarre and if anyone walked past when the group is in a deep discussion about seemingly insignificant aspects of your novel, they’d be thoroughly confused. Which simply makes things more fun.
  5. Writing groups give you a chance to connect with people - Everyone in your writing group will understand you at a level that no non-writer ever will. A fellow writer will know the deepest secrets and inner workings of your soul without necessarily knowing the exact details. They will see and connect with a part of you that few others will and this, if for nothing else, is why you need a writing group in your life.

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