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When it comes to being a writer, there’s this romantic ideal of someone seated primly at their aesthetic desk, ensconced in their adorable home office, laboring away for hours a day until art emerges, but this is far from the truth. There are many people involved in the process of creating your favorite books. Editors of course, and agents, publicists, marketers. But before all that, comes a writing community.
Writing is not easy. Many people say they want to write a book, few succeed. And there’s a reason for that. It’s not unlike your New Years’ resolution to work out three times a week—a lot easier said than done. But much like getting in shape, having a writing group to foster accountability greatly increases your chances of success. Nothing gets your butt in the chair and writing like knowing there are actual human people waiting to read your next chapter. And having other people to bounce ideas off of, work out plot snags, and help foster a writing schedule does wonders for writing productivity.
So how does one find a writing group? These days we have this wonderful thing called the internet to help us. I found my current writing group through meetup.com. However before that, I actually linked up with some coworkers who also wrote, and we would meet at a café every weekend to sprint. Nanowrimo is also another way to foster that sense of community, even if virtually, through the writing forums.
And now that you’ve found a writing group, how do you know if it’s the right writing group? Here are some things to consider: Are these people who you feel encourage your creativity, or are they constantly tearing your writing apart and leaving you feeling defeated? Do they write what you write? Do they get what you're going for artistically? Are they on the same page when it comes to turning writing into a career vs. writing as a hobby? What about skill level? Can you learn from them and do you respect their opinion?
Equally important is your contribution to the writer’s group. When it comes to the craft we writers can get quite chatty. It’s nothing for a group to spend hours analyzing a piece of work, and a meet up of more than a few people usually won’t be able to get through everyone’s work in one session. Some days you’ll give feedback, and some days you’ll receive it, and this should be balanced so that everyone gets to feel seen and heard. It’s common for writing circles to read each other’s work ahead of time. Do your best to get your work to your circle in a timely manner so they have a chance to give in depth feedback, and by the same token do your circle the common courtesy of reading their work more than five minutes before your meeting if this is the method your group settles on.
It can be tempting to keep your work clutched close against your chest, but in the end you may be doing yourself a great disservice by not joining a group.
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