Finding a helpful writing group can sometimes feel as difficult as the messy middle of your book you are navigating your way through. But the rewards for finding a group are many.
A writing group can help point out inconsistencies in your work, provide encouragement, ask questions and hold you accountable to your writing goals. When we belong to a supportive community, we are able to accomplish more.
So where do we begin?
Try your local writing centres and communities; a quick internet search with your city and “writing groups” will yield some results. Attend the group, meeting, or class and see if the group feels like a good fit.
Conferences: Sharing your contact information with other writing conference attendees is a great way to expand your writing community.
Start your own: Post a sign at your local coffee shop, or outside your favourite places, such as your local markets, yoga studio, bookshops and where other like-minded people may be. Have a process to screen individuals to determine if they are a good fit for your writing style, or not.
Writing associations: Check their sites for directories to find other members in your local area.
People you already know: Most of us don’t come from writer families, but this doesn’t matter; the key is establishing a routine for a regular exchange of work. It can often be easier with someone with whom you have weak ties. Consider co-workers, neighbours, or acquaintances.
Meetup.com: This online service connects local people with similar interests ranging from literature to stamp collecting. If there isn’t a writing group in your city, start your own – or hold virtual meetings.
Social media: Social media is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and find potential writing group members. Try these: LinkedIn Groups for Writers, Facebook Groups for Writers, Goodreads Writing Groups and Twitter Lists for Writers.
Or you can just put out a call on your own social networks that you’re starting a writing group. You might be surprised who responds.
Finding a writing group takes time but it is well worth it to have the support, feedback and encouragement a group provides. Once you find your people, consider these guidelines to make sure the group is effective for all of you.
For most, creative writing is a solitary art – and it’s no mystery as to why. But no piece of work, no matter how experienced its writer is, goes from the page to minds without a little help by an outsider. Whether it’s a professional editor, a friend, or family member. All writers need support, insight and celebrations every now and then because there are just some things that can’t be assessed by the writer alone.
Are you ready to receive feedback?
As any author will tell you the anxieties and nervousness that comes from the moment you first show your work to another. Asking others to view your work takes courage, but if you’re not open to suggestions then asking for it wastes your time as well as theirs. During feedback: don’t talk, just listen.
If you’re just starting out and the group you’ve found is made up of published authors it may not be the right one for you. Or, if you’ve completed numerous books and have stories being regularly published, you might find a group made entirely of beginners a bit hard going. If it doesn’t say anything about what stage their members have reached, then ask for more information. Otherwise, you’ve just got to try them out. It might be that going to a group of complete beginners releases you from the grips of perfectionism, or a group made up of published authors may act as powerful motivator if you’re just getting started.
Try out every group until you find what you need and always, always, remember a writing group only works if you’re writing.
Writing communities or writing mentor?
If you feel working individually with someone will better help get your book over the line, a writing mentor is your answer.
It’s invaluable to have someone you trust telling you, “Yes, you are a writer. Keep going.”
As writing mentors, we care about helping you achieve the goals you set within the timeframes you desire. We help you think outside the normal, coming up with fresh new ideas to assist you in moving from where you are now to where you want to be.
Here are some benefits of a supportive writing mentor:
To give your confidence, there’s nothing like having another writer who you respect and admire take an interest in you and your writing.
It’s all about bringing it to life and making the path to success a little clearer.
A mentor may open you eyes to possibilities you haven’t even dared to dream.
If we aren’t made aware of our short comings and what we need to do to improve, we’ll never learn and grow as writers – or as people for that matter.
What is a writing mentor?
Most writing mentors do not necessarily edit your work, we do, our writing mentors are all editors.
We help the writer; create a timeline, and select a completion date as a goal. The writing coach discusses the stages of a writing project, including an initial outline, preliminary research, a revised outline, more extensive research another revised outline, and various drafts, followed by the editorial process (developmental or substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading).
We help the writer develop a clear and compelling premise, set the tone, style, and voice based on the audience, and produce a coherent, captivating narrative.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Which one will you choose?