I’ve heard both ends of the spectrum when it comes to writing groups. Some people say they will kill your fire, some say they will keep it alive. I’m looking forward to meeting with mine this weekend, and without a doubt vouch for the need. The specific group I meet with are warm individuals who are ever willing to cheer the others on while at the same time providing honest feedback that will help the individual grow. In a word, I might have hobbled through the first book and stopped cold were it not for these meetings.
Maybe this is rare. Commitment to one another’s growth is important. Trust is vital. How often do you find a group of individuals who can coalesce to a common purpose. If you are an author committed to writing, I would urge you to find a supportive group.
What does a supportive group look like?
1) Everyone gets a turn at reading their work. Everyone gets a turn at sharing their thoughts about the work. If the meeting is based on sending ‘homework’ with the members, everyone finishes and has something to share.
2) Location, Location, Location. If it’s too far or too much of a hassle, it might not be the best group. I’ve had a group dissolve because we were all driving an hour to meet.
3) Honesty with compassion: A good group has a blend. They are able to point out flaws, but are also encouraging. If all you get is snipers, then you’ll lose your enthusiasm for writing. On the other hand, if you only hear, “That’s great. Don’t change a thing”, then perhaps a more critical eye is needed.
4) Consistency: The group should meet on a schedule. Of course, the schedule depends on the members, but it’s important to have a time set aside so that people aren’t scrambling to make plans.
If you’re going it alone, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one word after another and eventually you’ll have a manuscript. More than anything, a writer’s group helps keep the words flowing.