Posted on September 21, 2021 at 1:10 PM by Guest Author
If you’re looking to develop your writing skills, you may want to join a writing group. Learn what to expect from meeting up with fellow authors regularly.
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Are you struggling to decide whether you should join a writing group? In that case, you’re probably already familiar with the concept. But to avoid any potential confusion, it’s still worth outlining what a writing group is.
Simply put, a writing group is a gathering of people who are passionate about the craft of writing and meet up regularly — either in person or online — to hone their skills.
You should note that no two writing groups are the same. They often differ in purpose, format, and overall approach.
For example, one group may be more informal and focused on simply giving members a place to discuss writing; another might have a strict schedule and exist to critique members’ work.
Although authors debate the value of writing groups, many consider these communities essential, especially at specific points in the writing journey.
Let’s look at why...
Writing groups offer various benefits, which we’ll touch on in the next section. However, there are usually three main reasons to join a writing group:
1. You’re in search of support and socialization.
If you’re looking to break out of your bubble, joining a writing group may be the perfect solution.
Writing is, by nature, a very solitary activity. Unlike other jobs that allow you to socialize with coworkers, being an author means you’re usually on your own.
But participating in a group gives you the opportunity to interact with others, experience a sense of community, and gain emotional support.
2. You’re struggling with accountability.
You may decide to join a writing group if you’re having a tough time holding yourself accountable.
When writing in isolation, staying motivated can be a challenge. You’re at a greater risk of letting self-imposed deadlines pass by you.
However, taking part in a writing group can give you some much-needed structure, especially if you’re expected to share what you’ve written so far or update the group on your progress.
3. You need feedback on your writing.
Finally, a major reason to join a writing group is that you need unbiased feedback on your writing.
When working on a new project, you’re often too close to view it objectively. And getting loved ones to read your work in progress isn’t always the best approach, as they may worry about hurting your feelings.
But having a group of fellow authors to share with can give you some much-needed insight into areas of weakness.
If you’re still on the fence about whether you should join a writing group, you may want to learn a little more about the benefits. After all, it helps to know what you have to gain.
With that said, here are some of the pros of joining a writing group:
It’s a cost-effective way to strengthen your skills.
If you’re starting your writing career, you need to invest in your craft. But chances are you still have a budget in place.
In that case, you’ll be pleased to learn that joining a writing group is often an affordable method of developing your writing skills. Typically, groups are free to join — or, at most, require a modest membership fee.
And in the process of participating, you’ll receive invaluable feedback, education, and encouragement that will help you become a better writer.
It often aids in overcoming writer’s block.
Another advantage of being part of a writing group is that it can help you overcome writer’s block.
Although there are many reasons you may experience a creative slowdown, engaging with your group members can typically resolve the core issue.
Meeting with fellow authors can give you a much-needed energy boost, provide you with fresh insight, and help broaden your horizons.
You can get tips on the business side of writing.
If you want to become a career author, you don’t just need natural talent and sharp writing skills — you also need business savvy. Fortunately, that’s something you can work on when you join a writing group consisting of members at varying levels.
Those who have more experience can provide you with tips on publishing, marketing, networking, and more that will serve you in your career.
It can help you rediscover your love of writing.
Often writing can begin to feel like a chore, especially if you’re working toward finishing a book. But when you join a writing group, you’re able to find joy in writing again.
After all, enthusiasm spreads. Meeting regularly with others, sharing in their triumphs, and getting encouragement can go a long way in transforming writing back into a fun activity.
It gives you a pool of potential beta readers.
One of the benefits of signing up for a writing group that often goes overlooked is that it can help with finding beta readers.
For starters, those in your group are likely readers on top of writers. Further, being in a group with them means that by the time you’ve finished your first draft, you’ll know whether you can trust their judgment and feedback.
Of course, not everyone in your group will be up to the task (all you can do is ask), but it gives you a great place to start looking.
To make an informed decision about whether to join a writing group, you need to consider both sides. Although there are plenty of benefits to look forward to, there are some drawbacks as well.
Here are some cons to keep in mind:
Not all the advice you receive will be helpful.
Giving feedback is a skill that needs to be developed. This means that you can’t expect all the advice you receive to be good, especially if a group is in its early stages.
Some members may not understand the concept of “constructive criticism,” whereas others may deliver vague advice.
Additionally, the feedback you get from those at or below your experience level may not be as helpful as input from those who have been writing longer.
There may be some personality clashes.
A writing group is like any other community based on a shared interest — it’s filled with passionate people who have their own opinions and egos. Because of this, there may be some personality clashes that result in arguments and hurt feelings.
Before you join a writing group, you need to think about how you would handle negative comments or pushback from other members.
It requires a time commitment, just like any other activity.
When you join a writing group (and truly participate), you must dedicate a fair amount of time to it.
And it’s not just the meetings themselves; it’s also the time spent keeping up with communications, preparing for each session, and traveling to the meeting place (if the group gathers in person).
Depending on your schedule, this may prove hard to manage.
It’s not uncommon to stray off course without leadership.
It can be tough to stay on track if a writing group doesn’t have an official leader (or even an unofficial one).
Without someone in charge who’s committed to providing a productive, nurturing environment, the group can fall into chaos.
At best, the group can become disorganized. At worst, it can become toxic.
Sometimes you’ll want to break the format.
Depending on the type of group you join, you may find yourself stuck to a format that doesn’t always work for you.
For example, you may want to share a recent chapter you’ve written during a session when you’re scheduled to do writing exercises.
If there’s no flexibility in activities, you might not get the most out of the group.
There are many reasons to join a writing group, especially if your goal is to become a published author. But when it comes down to it, you need to consider what’s best for you, analyzing the pros and cons.
Hopefully, the information provided here will help you decide on the best course of action.
And remember, if you decide to join a writing group, it’s important to look for one that fits your needs (and avoid groups that do more harm than good).
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