Do you write alone?
When I wrote my first manuscript I did it shut away from everyone. I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a novel. My second time around I’ve got a support group – not one that leaves trays of chocolate and tea at the door then knocks and runs (I wish!) – but one, actually two, groups of marvellous writers who know what it is like to be, well, a writer.
Writing a manuscript is like becoming a parent – you know vaguely what it will be like before it happens to you, but then WHAM you experience the reality and there are so many more shades than you could ever have imagined.
Having a support team of writers is great because you have a connection with people who get it. They get the obsession, despair, exhilaration, trepidation and frustration that comes from being a person who breathes words. They understand.
The writing itself may be completely different: different genres, target audiences, word counts, settings etcetera. The writing style might be at odds – plotters, pantsers and free stylers and those who simply throw words at a wall. We write. The differences don’t matter.
My first writing group is a bunch of ladies whose literary opinions I trust, and mean more to me than I can say. Yet, I’ve never even met them! We met through a QWC online course and now we work together to run The Print Posse. Behind the scenes we offer support, give feedback on each other’s work, vent, cheer, sob and most importantly, understand.
My second group meets up regularly where we have writing sessions. We meet in a library or similar space, do writing sprints, chat, do more sprints and then finish up with a lot of encouragement. We help each other be accountable for meeting our targets.
I’ve come to cherish the support from both groups. It’s a benefit from being a writer I never expected.
So, here’s how to start your own writing group:
1. Participate in online writing courses and ask other students to keep in touch. I’ll forever be thankful that the wonderful GJ Stroud asked this of me.
2. Go to master classes and introduce yourself to fellow participants. Hand them your email and say, ‘Contact me if you are keen to form a writing group’.
3. Attend writing conferences and festivals and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you.
4. At writing conferences and festivals look for the person who is unsure where to sit at lunch, ask them to join you and talk about writing.
6. Chat with writers on Twitter and ask for writing group members.
7. Contact your local library or Writers Centre to see if they can advertise for you or suggest other like-minded people.
Just like writing styles, writing groups differ. Have a think about what the best style would be for you – in person, online, small, large, unstructured, formal… And you can always be in more than one.
If you would like more information on starting a writing group have a look at these sites:
Are you in a writing group? What does it offer you? Would you like to start your own group? Let me know in the comments below.