Do you have a nail-biting whodunit inside you that is just itching to get out? Perhaps you’ve dreamed of writing for magazines. Or penning a blockbuster for the big screen. If these–and other–literary dreams need a little encouragement and assistance to become a reality, you might consider joining a writers group.
What is a writers group?
Also called a writers club, a writers group is a loose collection of writers who share their work and receive feedback from other members. Most groups are open, so you’ll encounter a wide variety of genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, blogs, magazines, and more.
Groups meet weekly or biweekly, at days and times convenient for members. (Organizers typically arrange groups in MeetUp; start your search there. Another resource is this list of writers associations.) Participants bring a sample of their work to pass around. Other members review the work while it is being read by the author. Afterward, members offer suggestions and critiques. The goal is to make the work stronger through the insight gleaned from other authors.
Another style of group allocates a majority of each meeting for writing, with the remainder geared toward socializing. The hope is that the “deadline” concept forces authors to type away, thereby producing something each time. It’s an interesting concept. You can find one such a group, called “Just Write It!”, in MeetUp.
I recently joined a writers group here in the Milwaukee area. Having written numerous trade magazine articles and other pieces, I am looking for impetus to write in other areas. That’s another benefit to these clubs: Members act as mentors to each other, gently encouraging their fellow authors along. Like many others, I’ve envisioned a writing a book. My problem is that I’m not sure what to write about. At least the technical side has improved dramatically of late: Today’s digital technology makes it very affordable for authors to self-publish their works.
Tuesday night’s meeting, which was my first for this writers group, was designed to get me acclimated to the format and members. I listened to and read the works of two members, both working on novels. (The fourth member hadn’t printed her sample for review.) It was fascinating to read what others have written and to listen to the feedback. I offered some suggestions, and hope to impart more in later meetings.
Suggestions, by the way, can be everything from style and substance to editing and proofreading corrections (the latter being a strong suit of mine). It’s important that the feedback be friendly and helpful. Similar to what I learned in Toastmasters about presentation evaluations, critiquing an author’s work during a should entail words of encouragement along with the suggestions for improvements. The recipient, at the same time, must accept the advice for what it is: sincere attempts to improve the material.
Fellow authors might also offer suggestions on where to turn for writing work. One of the members of Tuesday’s group provided contact names of local magazine and newspaper editors. The key is to help you get published, regardless of the genre or platform.
Don’t let that story idea or writing passion simmer any longer. Do yourself a favor. Check out the writers groups in your area. The help and encouragement you receive could be just what you need to realize that dream.
Do you have experience with a writers group? What was it like? Feel free to leave a comment. If you found value in this post, please share it so others may benefit from what you and I have written. You may use any of the buttons below. To contact me, send an email.