Lately I’ve been thinking about the merits and challenges of belonging to a group of writers. Writing is more of a solitary occupation rather than a team activity, but it can be hard yards when you are alone with your thoughts and cast of characters, tapping away and becoming enmeshed in a world of your own creation. Self-doubt is an accepted part of the writing life, but it can be eased by connecting with other writers.
There are various online forums which encourage you to test your work and connect with your fellow scribes. I have tried these from time to time and have enjoyed the process. Many of them include a mixture of receiving feedback in exchange for critiquing the work of others. This can be a good way to hone your skills: it is often easier to pick up things in other people’s work as there is a degree of separation.
Then there are the writing groups which are in many of our communities. Granted, they may not be easy to find but they are worth the search. Ask friends, check in at your local library or keep an eye out for writing groups being advertised online or in the newspaper (old school, I know, but still effective at times).
I belong to a group of writers following a shout out for interested people through my local library. The initial response to this call to arms was impressive. There were people from all walks of life who simply wanted to connect with others, get feedback on their work and share in the many joys that come from writing.
Sometimes you need to test the water and make sure that the group is going to be a reasonable fit for where you are and what it is that you are looking for from other writers. Is it purely critiquing, or do you need a bit of guidance from time to time on character or plot development? Are you looking for a group of writers in the same area (novel writing, short stories, poetry, screenplays etc) or do you work better with a bit of diversity? If you are lucky enough to have a choice, go along to a few sessions before casting your hat in the ring and committing yourself to turn up and participate on a regular basis.
If you are clear in your intent, you are more likely to find a group that resonates with you, that helps you find direction if you are a little lost, and most importantly, inspires you to write.
Do you fly solo, or do you connect with other writers from time to time?
*Together Alone is a song and album title borrowed from Crowded House.