Joining a Writer’s Group

Finding other writers is easy for some, difficult for others. I live in a remote part of Texas and the closest writer’s group is thirty miles away. It’s an off and on again group that had four people present the last time I met. I also belong to a writer’s group that is about two hours away. Last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). All these allowed me to meet other writers  and share stories about writing.

Meeting other writers is essential. One of the first things you discover is that the ‘problems’ you have experienced are not unique to you. There are other writers out there who have the same issues. Another is that other writers have developed solutions to common problems in writing. At conferences and workshops they are often willing to share their wisdom.

My experience has been that the longer I write, the more valuable other’s ideas are. Seems odd, doesn’t it? Here’s why that’s true. When I first started writing, everything was an uphill learning experience. As I continued, the learning curve started to level out, then I began to understand some of the other writer’s suggestions and ideas. I think I was just too overwhelmed to fully understand what they were saying.

Another benefit from meeting other writers is sometimes you find someone who is an old salt with many publications who is willing to read your work and critique your writing. I’m very careful about doing this. I want someone who will be honest and helpful and not damaging. The last thing is hard to know before you know. So, I do that based on ‘feel.’ If something doesn’t feel right between me and the other person, I will decline an offer to read my work. I had an old family therapy instructor who used to say, “If you feel like something is going on, it usually is.” That’s why I decline (though I have seldom done so). I’m trusting my feelings. Almost all my readers have been extremely helpful.

Finally, sometimes you find someone who has overcome many obstacles you haven’t met yet. If you are lucky, that someone will be caring and sharing and will be willing to guide you through the minefield.