If you are serious about being a writer, I would highly recommend getting involved in a writing group. I’ve gotten involved in three groups here in Columbia: The Columbia Novelist Group, Columbia Chapter Writer’s Guild, and a MeetUp group for fiction writers.
There are at least five benefits to joining a writing group:
1. Encouragement. Simply being around other writers always gives me a boost of encouragement to keep going, to keep writing and to have a little more confidence and motivation. Other writers understand what it means to sit in front of your computer banging your head against the desk, just trying to get one sentence out. They have conversations in their heads with their characters, too. When they watch a movie or read a book, they think about plot and how the audience is engaged. When you are the only one you know who writes, sometimes you feel a little out of place or you don’t write as often because it feels like it shouldn’t be a priority, but other writers can be a great source of encouragement.
2. Critiques. It is very difficult to see all the problems with your own work. Critiques can help you see the holes, the areas where you added too much or put too little, the strength of your dialogue, and so much more. But hearing your own work critiqued isn’t the only benefit of belonging to a critique group. I’ve found that listening to other writer’s work being critiqued gives me a lot to bring home to my own writing project.
3. Expanded Knowledge. Many critique groups also have speakers and some even host conferences. I’ve listened to writer’s talk about self-publishing, character development, and plot. I’ve learned so much about the art of writing just by having conversations with other writers. I’ve gotten recommendations on books and materials that have helped me with technique.
4. Exchange of Ideas. When you don’t know where to go with your work or when you know something is missing, belonging to critique groups means that you have someone to brainstorm with you. You don’t have to always figure it out on your own. You can talk it out, hear what it sounds like, and find the right direction before you even begin writing it out.
Do you belong to a critique group? What benefits have you found from being a part of one?