I was advised to join a writing group early on in my writing career and I ignored it for a couple of years. I thought about it, and even looked a few up a few local ones on line. I can admit it now, I think I was a little intimidated – what if I wasn’t good enough? What if all these dream I had of being a writer were just that, dreams? The web site for one was inviting, all welcome, come along see what you think, listen to others to start with etc. Another I have to admit seemed designed to put people off, a list of luminaries and achievements. Almost, well if you think you really are good enough come along…
However, eventually I found one that was at a time that suited me and said it was aimed at anyone interested in creative writing for whatever reason. So I had no excuses and plucked up the courage . What did I find? a group of warm welcoming people, some writing poetry, others concentrating on short stories, one or two like me interested in novels and one lady trying to record her rich and interesting life for the benefit of her children and grandchildren. Some just enjoyed writing for its own sake and the group provided a focus for that writing. The fact that at that time I had completed one novel and was finishing another with the aim of self publishing was of interest to them. Also, I think they were curious that I was writing science fiction, a genre that some of them at least had little experience of.
I’m just finishing my second year with the group. Some people leave, new people come along. Some knowing what they want to write, some with just a notion that they want to write something. Has it helped me, definitely. Not only the encouragement of reading out my own work and having positive feedback, but also the friendly critique. The listening to the work of others, the varied styles and variety of subject is a great source of inspiration. It has encouraged me to read more poetry and even try writing some. For a writer of novels and short stories that has been of unexpected value and something perhaps all ‘story writers’ should try. In poetry every word has to earn its place, has to add value to the piece.
Finally, there are the writing assignments (not compulsory) which in our case means being given a word to write about. For me this has resulted in many short stories, some science fiction, but others have taken me down paths that I would never normally have thought of treading. All of which have I believed improved me as a writer. It has also resulted in stories that I have entered in competitions and ones that you will find on this site (note to self – I must put some more up).
All in all, is it worth it? Most definitely. Just mixing with people who value and enjoy writing as I do is encouraging, besides all those benefits I have outlined above. So my advice, if you are not a member of a writing group, or wondering about joining one, go for it. Writing is a lonely business at times, this is a great way of meeting like minded people and perhaps getting that encouragement you need to take your writing to the next level. If you are already a member of a writing group perhaps you would share how it has benefited you.