Okay, there are probably many more than five, but these are my top five reasons why writers should belong to a small, but active, writers group. In person or online, a good group can be a critical element to successful writing.
1. Regular feedback and support of your peers. Writing in a vacuum is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Having a group of people you meet regularly with gives you an opening to bounce ideas off of each other. You encourage each other and that is probably one of the most motivating things you can experience. It’s one thing to have your best friend gushing at how wonderful your writing is and quite another to have your peers cheering you on. They’re in the same boat. They understand the process. They’ve either already been there, are there now, or see they are going to be there – someday. They want you to succeed in the same way that they want to succeed. When it comes down to it, they have your back and you have theirs. At the same time, they will tell you honestly when they feel something needs fixed.
2. It’s a formidable tool for improving your writing skills. When you ask for feedback on a story, or a part of one, you are getting experienced feedback. They write too and, while they also make mistakes, other writers are much more likely to catch things that need to be fixed early on. Likewise, in giving feedback, you will also gain additional insights into your own work and sometimes see your own mistakes boldly mirrored in the other writers efforts. Of course, helping each other is what such groups are for, but it’s nice when you help someone else and yourself at the same time. Sideways as it were Editorial services can’t even come close the team work of a good crit group.
3. You have access to a wider range of experience you can call on for advice. In my original group, we had a diplomat who worked for the State Department. There was also an anthropologist and we had two spouses who were happy to help on technical issues, an aerospace engineer and an ex-military sergeant with some special forces experience. There were others with varied, though perhaps more ordinary, skills that were just as valuable. Since most of us wrote Science Fiction or Fantasy, these were a great asset. We had a pool of talents and experience to call on when questions arose. Even if we didn’t have anyone in our immediate group, there was usually someone who did have an outside contact we could ask.
4. They are with you for the long haul. It makes a huge difference when the same people are around from the beginning of your story, particularly if it’s a multi-book situation. If you need feedback on a scene in book two or three, you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to get them to the point of understanding where you are in the story. They already know. They know you and your writing. Bouncing ideas off of them is easy. Any time I’ve tried it with others, it has seldom helped very much unless it was narrowly technical. Ultimately, they have time and interest invested in your writing, as you do in theirs and it’s in everyone’s interest to see a piece succeed. It tends to validate the group as a whole, not just the individual writer.
5. It’s more fun this way! Writers, like any other group, get more enthusiastic when they hang out together. You have fun. You challenge each other in small, sometimes silly, ways. Laughing together is a magnificent way to help overcome writer’s block. Discussions that take strange, totally off the wall directions free your imagination and often stimulate new story ideas.
So, what are your reasons for – or against for that matter?
I am starting up a new group soon, hopefully with some of the old hands coming along too. Comment if your interested. Where you are in the process doesn’t matter. Love of writing does.