Wednesday, February 3, 2010

5 Ways a Writing Group Can Help Your Writing

Most writers would probably agree that writing is often a lonely profession. It’s not like we casually drop by our co-workers’ cubicles to hear the latest gossip or get caught up on the goings-on in their lives. And fiction writers—well, our livelihood is creating imaginary people in imaginary worlds…few other folks can relate.

Rather than continue to work with just your computer screen for company, you may want to consider joining a writing group. You may not think you need one until you attend your first meeting—then you’ll wonder how you’ve gone this long without one.
Still not convinced? Here are just 5 reasons how a writers’ group can help your productivity:

Networking with other writers. Back to that point about “writing is often a lonely profession”…it doesn’t have to be! Writers’ groups tend to attract all kinds of writers, from all kinds of genres, including yours! They can be a wealth of information on where to submit your work, new writer-friendly products, “must-read” books, and anything else you can think of. We all share many of the same frustrations, no matter what genre we prefer. Join us—you have found your people!

Information about new opportunities. Markets, contests, agents, or plain old folks looking for help with a project—you never would have learned these things without your connections at the writers’ group!

Feedback on your work. Whether it’s a critique group that meets regularly, some time allotted at each meeting to share a work in progress, or something in between, most groups’ purpose is the same—to help their writers improve their writing! A little constructive feedback is all part of the process, and most are grateful for frank comments on their work. The trick is to give criticism that’s helpful rather than harmful.

Education. Workshops, seminars, monthly programs—different groups set different priorities, but almost all of them offer some type of educational program from time to time. The Black Diamond Writers Network features a monthly speaker discussing some element of the art or craft of writing, with occasional workshops held throughout the year to keep things interesting and offer additional skill-building. Take advantage of everything—you will learn something.

Shameless self-promotion. For those lucky few who have managed to reach their writing goals, whatever they might be, there’s no better feeling in the world than sharing it with others who may want to do the same. Whether you’ve published a book, had an article accepted by a major market, had your screenplay performed by a local troupe, or simply finished something (already a major accomplishment!), share it! Writers love to support one of their own, so if you have a book to sell, don’t forget your fellow scribes! It might also be a great motivator for a fellow member to sit down in front of the computer screen and get back to work on their own masterpiece.

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