Contrary to all the stereotypes of the lonely writer, writers are a gregarious bunch. We like to hang out together and talk ‘shop’, just like everybody else. Conferences are great occasions for that simple reason, as we get a chance to mingle with our tribe. However, conferences are rare. You can make writing friends online, but you can’t share a cuppa with an online buddy. The best way of being part of your writing community is to join – or start – a writers’ group.
How can a writers’ group benefit you as a writer?
Straight off, joining a writers’ group gives you a whole bunch of friends who have the same issues, problems, joys, and celebrations. You’ve just hired your own cheer squad and a flock of shoulders-to-cry-on. You can pop the loneliness bubble with just a phone call to a fellow member of your group.
Every person in your writers’ group will have a unique range of skills and knowledge, and not just about writing. Use your group as your very own brains trust to add authentic details to your prose. If they don’t know about something – say, for example, the proper way to use a crossbow – they might know of someone who does. Don’t forget to offer up your own talents in return.
What is the magical part of being in a writers’ group?
You have a pool of friends who will read your work! To be fair, you should offer to swap manuscripts for proofreading and critiquing. Different sets of eyes pick up different faults. Once you start handing your prose out for critiquing, it is important to remember that even negative advice is given with kind intentions. When returning the favour, don’t forget to point out what you thought was good writing as well as any flaws.
Every writers’ group has a different dynamic, as it is a sum of its parts. If you do decide to join a group, you become a cog in a complex and exciting device. Spread the good oil! Invite other writing friends to join your group.
Lynne Lumsden Green (Secretary, Springfield Writers Group)