How a Writing Group Can Improve Your Story
Many budding authors tend to be rather protective. While it’s natural for writers to worry about harsh criticism or whether anyone will like what they’ve written, I decided I needed to let go of that fear. After all, how am I to ever publish if I don’t let anyone read what I’ve written?
Earlier this year I took a leap and signed up for a writing class. The class was held once a week for four weeks and at the end of it all, I felt lost. I had found inspiration where, for far too long, there had only been stagnation. Without the class to lean on I was worried I would fall back into my bad habits.
Then something beautiful happened.
A week after the final class, I received an email from the instructor. One of the other members of the class offered to open her home for a writing group. Was I interested? My heart was racing. Do I foster these relationships and make myself vulnerable, or keep writing on my own, safely? I typed up a quick reply and hit send before I could talk myself out of my decision.
Two weeks later I was sitting in a stranger’s home, sharing my work with people I barely knew. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Being a part of a writing group has given me things I didn’t even know I needed, and I write more now than I’ve done in the last ten years. So what exactly has this writing group given me?
1. Unbiased Opinions
Friends can be supportive to a fault. When my writing group reads my work, they’re honest. This has helped me with continuity, as well as character relationships and plot points that weren’t connecting the way I wanted them to.
2. Constructive Criticism
A writing group isn’t only about you. It’s also about the people you’re working with. When you identify something that isn’t working in someone else’s piece, it can be applied to your own writing as well. Rather than deleting that last page, figure out why it isn’t doing what you want it to.
Before the writing group came into my life, I’d write only when inspiration struck. At my worst, that would be once every few months. Now I write every weekend. I aim to submit something for review at every single meeting and so far, I’ve held to that.
4. Different Perspectives
My current project is a new adult fantasy novel. The rest of the group have confessed that fantasy isn’t their preferred genre and they’re not even close to being in the demographic for my book. However, their feedback has led to me adding new scenes to better show relationship progression and spreading out info dumps to keep the reader interested. I’ve even been posed some tough questions on worldbuilding that I never thought to consider.
As an unintended side effect of the writing group, I began networking. The writers in my group travel in different circles and have their own connections they’re willing to share if I do the same. Getting published can be about who you know. And because of my writing group, my publishing contacts circle grew.
I love writing. I feel it in my soul. Creation is something I crave, but I’ve been reluctant to engage for a long time. The support and advice I’ve gained with my writing group has opened up a part of me that I’d closed. I am a writer. I will always be a writer. The ability to create something wonderful is within me, if I just take the leap and do it.
If you feel stuck with your writing, consider taking that leap. Find your tribe. Check your local library for writing classes or groups. Search for writing events and conferences in your area. Dare to put yourself and your work out there. You might be surprised at what you find!