Writing Groups and Why You Need One by Raina Schell
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Raina Schell as she shares with us about “Writing Groups and Why You Need One.” Enjoy!
You’ve probably heard utterances of “writing is a lonely job”. I’m here to tell you – it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve all heard of writing groups. Where writer’s meet to either write together or critique what they or others have written. What I’d like to argue is that you don’t have to find “the perfect group”. That’s right, any group will do. No matter what genre the other folks write, no matter the type of people they are and no matter whether they approve or are supportive of what you write or not.
“How can that even work?” you demand. Simple. It’s not the personalities it’s the process. When I started meeting with writer’s groups I would proudly state that I was a romance writer only to be met with criticism and judgment. At first I got bogged down with the details, I felt less-than and even disrespected by some of my writing peers. In the end what I found out is that doesn’t matter. I’m not in a writing group to make friends necessarily, though that has definitely happened because no matter what, there are good people in the world and like attracts like. What I came to know is true for me is that I’m in writing groups to write. The impetus of one or more other writer sitting down and “just writing” without talking to one another or engaging in other distractions is a very powerful time.
The first group I joined was one you can probably find on meetup.com in your area. In some areas it’s called “Shut up and Write” and in our area it’s “Just Write”. Regardless of the name, the concept is simple… You arrive at the designated time, introduce yourself to the group and say a sentence or two about what you’re working on. You are not required to say anything you don’t want to. Meaning if you want to reveal your genre you can, otherwise you can just say you’re working on x, y and z. An example would be: “Hello I’m Raina and today I’m working on a scene in Chapter 4 of my third novel.” If someone asks what it’s about I can politely tell them it’s fiction as opposed to saying it’s a paranormal romance. What I learned the hard way is that some people do judge so if you’re a sensitive type, keep it to yourself.
Another thing that I learned the hard way was when one writer asked me in my “Just Write” group if we could critique each other’s work. I had never done that before and I didn’t realize that: 1. It was a set-up and 2. That was not the right venue for such a bold foray into the unknown. I trepidatiously agreed, I should always follow my intuition. I had my coveted and closeted writing torn to bloody shreds in front of my eyes. The person whose work I critiqued explained how I knew nothing about critiquing and told me they would not be taking any of my (implied) crappy suggestions. Sometimes people need to make others feel badly in order to make themselves feel better. I took this as a fantastic learning experience and have since found two different critique partners that I trust who are kind and helpful. And all WE do is critique each other’s work, we don’t get together and write.
As for the writing — I now have three different writing groups and I love them all for different reasons but mostly I love that they enable me to sit quietly and write with a group of people for a set amount of time. There’s something purely magical and persuasive about that. Sometimes I get more written in an hour with a group of other writers than I get written in a day at home. Fewer distractions and focused concentration. Maybe there’s a little bit of healthy competition too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raina Schell is a vagabond. She lives where the tide takes her. The only constant in her life is her trusty laptop. She doesn’t live in a tidy little house. Her dreams aren’t surrounded by a white picket fence. She has no family but spends her free time with a black and white bunny rabbit named Fred.
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