One of the most common pieces of writing advice I hear is to join a writing group. And while I wholeheartedly agree with this, it’s a lot easier said than done.
First, let’s start with the benefits.
Writing groups are a community
Writing is a solitary practice. However, by joining a writing group, you get the opportunity to speak with other people going through the same issues as you. Things like procrastinating and self-doubt.
They can be a resource to answer craft questions and give advice. And most importantly, they will cheer you on in a way that’s different than what you get from family. As much as I love my family and non-writer friends, they don’t always get it. But other writers know what it’s like to dream of completing works. Of getting the words and story just right that you connect with a reader in meaningful way.
Good writer friends have that same dream. And, they’re usually generous with their time and want to see everyone succeed.
Writing groups help you grow
There are different types of writing groups, but even those that are more social in nature will help you grow as a writer. In a social group, you get the benefit of focus. Talking about writing on a regular basis tells our brains that this is a priority. In turn, this leads to being open to ideas and action.
Every time I go to a writing group or event, I’m renewed. I’m focused and motivated to write. The next step is then to follow through on that feeling with action—sit down and write.
Writing groups also offer practice writing sessions and critiques. Practice writing has many benefits. It gets those muscles flowing and can lead to new ideas. And critiques are imperative. This includes feedback on your writing as well as listening and giving feedback on other’s work. By listening, we can apply feedback to all areas of our writing.
But not all writing groups are equal.
How to find a good writing group
I’ve tried a couple of different writing groups that either didn’t last or weren’t a fit. You may find the same. That’s okay, keep trying. I’ve learned something from every group I’ve been in. You will too.
Here are some things to consider.
- What type of group are you looking for? Social group, critique, writing session. Some groups provide all three, but some focus on a specific area.
- Where are you in your journey? Your needs will be different depending on where you are; like if you have a complete first draft versus still in the dream phase. With a complete first draft you may want serious critiquing, but if you’re still dreaming of wanting to write you may want something more supportive.
- What types of writers do you want to work with? Are you open to working with younger writers or experienced ones?
- Level of commitment. Once a month, weekly, etc.
Next, research your community to find out what’s available. I recommend starting with the library. If they don’t have a writing group, ask if you can start one. I also recommend attending area workshops. Meeting other writers in your area will give you opportunity to learn of groups and/or start your own. You can also find writing groups on social media like Facebook groups or Discord. And by following writing blogs like Nathan Bransford or Jane Friedman. They often have community sections or mention opportunities in their posts.
It may take a little time to find the perfect fit. Keep an eye open, be willing to try new groups, and invite others along the way. Next thing you know, you’ll be extolling the virtues too.
What other suggestions do you have? Have any of these worked for your in the past?