Being in a Good Writer’s Group

In a recent comment on this blog, a friend asked some really great questions about what I like about my writer’s group. Her experience had not been as good as mine. Her questions started me thinking how fortunate I have been. So I thought I’d share in greater detail how I came to be in the group that I belong to and share a little bit about my experience so far.

I’ve belonged to my writer’s group since January of 2013. I joined because – you guessed it – I had made a resolution to actually finish something I had started writing. I found the group on the local library webpage under the calendar of events. I considered going for awhile before I actually plucked up the courage to go.

With my resolution I made myself take that first leap into acknowledging myself as a writer by checking out the group. Fortunately for me, I walked into a really great group.

My group meets twice a month on Sundays at the local library. Years ago, the library asked a writer (and editor for a small press) to moderate the group. Amanda S. Green has knowledge of the industry and the experience as both fellow writer and as editor to share with the group. Her books are smart and fun. I would recommend reading both her Nocturnal Lives books and her Hunters Moon series as Ellie Ferguson.

I would also absolutely say that a large part of the success of our small group is due to the excellent moderation provided by her as the group’s leader.

New members are always more than welcome and are greeted with a quick rundown of what the group is about and what to expect should you choose to join. It’s clear from the beginning that the group provides thoughtful critique of work submitted, and encouragement as needed, but is not about negative commentary that is not constructive.

New members are also not immediately able to access the work of the group. Newbies need to attend a few meetings before they can access our works in progress, so we feel our work is well protected.

Meetings usually consist of general discussion about what is going on in the always changing world of publishing, as well as critiquing of work submitted.

I haven’t submitted much for critique but I always get a lot out of meetings anyway just listening to suggestions for how to improve what has been submitted.

The group is a mix of both published and unpublished writers. Our work is varied, including poetry, essays, a small amount of non-fiction and lots of short stories and novels.

Many genres are represented, from literary fiction to horror to romance to urban fantasy. Having writers from other genres reading your work has its benefits. Amanda points out how it keeps us from relying too much on the tropes within the genre. For me, I always see how despite the genre, the writing should have a lot of the same quality characteristics. Regardless of genre, you should show and not tell, for example. But we have covered many little details that make up solid writing skills. I always learn general writing concepts that are helping to make me a better writer.

Probably one of the best things about my group, and what I would recommend you seek out if looking for your own group, is that it is very low drama. No one seems to treat anyone in the group with an air of superiority, regardless of their level of success. Everyone gives support and encouragement as we all are working to be better writers – even the ones who have novels or books already published. We all acknowledge there is work to be done and improvement to be made.

Perhaps that in itself is the most comforting part of being in a good group, just the community of other writers all working toward the same goal. To be better.

I know I am.