Welcome to Writer Resources 6, my long overdue post about writing groups and their importance. For many years, when I was first starting out, I harbored a great aversion to writing groups. My mom would always suggest that I go to one in Los Angeles, as that was the closest one to me at the time, and I remember very clearly saying, verbatim, “I prefer to write by myself.”
Now, on one hand, that makes sense. As writers starting out, many of us are afraid to showcase our work, to let others, sometimes strangers, lay eyes on our babies. On the other hand…it’s probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said, looking back on it. As I pushed through college and got the classes that interested me, I took three creative writing courses in my final four semesters, and they were some of the most beneficial classes I had the privilege of participating in. Here’s why:
- Your own writing, no matter how proud you are of it, is always going to feel dull when you read it because you’ve read the story so many times during the writing and editing processes. Writing groups provide you with fresh sets of eyes, people who can pick out plot inconsistencies and typos, who can lend a new perspective to what you’re working on and help you get your story in the shape it needs to be for publication.
- Writing groups are a support system for writers, something that every single one of us, whether up-and-coming or professional, needs. The people in your writing group are there to help you with your story, to commiserate and offer advice…to be your friends. Writing can be a solitary craft if you let it be, but if you take the time to reach out to your fellow authors and establish relationships and talk about your work together, you’ll find the end result is going to be much cleaner than what you might have had otherwise.
- Writing groups also provide great opportunities to network with other writers in your area. Building and maintaining connections is important in any field of work, and in publishing it is especially helpful. A connection could lead to a agent or a publisher; it could lead to you have stories solicited by magazine editors. The possibilities are endless.
Writing groups are highly beneficial for many reasons, some of which I’ve outlined above. Take it from the guy who evaded writing groups for years: you’ll be glad you joined one.