Should You Join A Writing Group?  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Good vibes oNly- mark Adriane- unsplash

Do you feel the need for feedback on your writing or validation? Or perhaps you are sick of struggling on alone, and fed up with your own company and isolation?

Maybe you have hit the creative wall and need a boost?

Desperate to know more about writing and you sense that you are boring your family with your work?

A writing group could be the answer BUT not all writing groups are the same.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

As I have been a member of each of this type of group at some time, let me be your guide, without fear or favour.

The Bad

A bad group suits those in it for various reasons. 1. It may be an ego trip for a couple of the members.

The Bad2.The group may be a talkfest, and not get any writing done

3.The group may take up too much time with the committee and procedural matters.

4.One strong personality dominates, and only certain genres are permitted to be written.

5, Only approved genres are permitted to be written- no ‘nasty ‘science fiction or fantasy!

The Ugly

Some groups thrive on competitiveness and backbiting!

Ugly

Petty rivalries and jealousies abound, they are cliquey and only allow certain members.

In a creative writing course.that I attended a group of three poured scorn on everyone else’s efforts. The facilitator- either did not see or ignored it.As the course lasted a semester, this was not the happiest or friendliest of groups. Unfortunately, it was obligatory for me to attend.

There is no need for you to suffer this kind of treatment if you don’t have to.

Nourish your own ego in a healthy way and walk away

Egos can get bruised, by criticism whether tactfully phrased or not. At one group a disgruntled member sent poison pen letter and serious threats were made!

What Makes A Good Writing Group?

    1.Leadership is inclusive and encouraging

CUte Angel All members are free to participate in the group’s activities and no one member can dominate.

2.Writing prompts are set which may slightly challenge the group. So, in one meeting the focus may be on metaphor usage, while the next time it could be on dialogue or pacing.

3, Writers are encouraged to write in their own individual way. The unique ‘voice’of each writer is preserved.

4, Feedback is provided on shorter pieces, if requested. This can be content, word choice and usage, with suggestions to make the piece stronger.

5.They have an interest in all aspects of writing and members attend author talks, writing festivals and events.

Editing is not within the scope of most groups Although from time to time a new member will bring in a manuscript which they hope to have edited quickly and for free. Editing is professional skill and is usually charge accordingly.

The next post will focus on how to assess a writing group’s suitability for your needs.

What has been your experience with writing groups?

 

What Watching Ice Dancing Taught Me About Writing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been watching The International SkatingUnion Ice Dance Competitions. In the midst of an Australian Summer, it has been a delightful cool change., relaxing to mind and body.

In the last couple of days, I have been watching the crème de la crème of the skating world as they competed in the Olympics. Beyond the costumes and the glamour, these skaters are dedicated athletes practising hundreds of hours to achieve perfection.

 

Ice dancing - Skeeze cc.
Image Wikipedia.

At first, what fascinated me was how much emotion can be conveyed by body movements and facial expressions. The skaters told a story without using words.

For a writer, one who values words it created a paradox, how could this be? The more I watched the more I understood that they and I could convey a mood through body language.

As writers we are always being told to ‘show not tell’, and here it was in action, the skaters were conveying emotion,

Skaters cannot glide gracefully across the ice unless they are willing to accept the possibility of falling.

Writers cannot improve, unless they are willing to push past failure and go on to succeed.

Grace on the ice comes after gruelling hours of practice. Why do we expect writing to be any different? We too have to learn our craft, to be brave and to risk failure.

Ice dancing

After watching a few less than dignified falls I also realised that skaters are prepared to fail in public, in the pursuit of their dream.  Falls can be an issue for skaters potentiality causing serious injuries. Even if not injured, a fall can upset the flow of a good performance.But skaters have resilience, If they fall, they mentally shrug it off and get back up and keep skating. It’s a blip and not a disaster.

Writers hit a bit of stumbling block in the privacy of their own minds and so many of us just stop. Just as skaters cannot glide gracefully across the ice unless they are willing to accept the possibility of falling. Writers cannot improve, unless they are willing to push past failure and go on to succeed.

Grace on the ice comes after gruelling hours of practice. Why do we expect writing to be any different? We too have to learn our craft, to be brave and to risk failure.