Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Importance of a Writer's Group

So let me ask you this: How many of you have taken workshops at The Writer's Center and discovered kindred spirits in the workshop? People you ended up getting together with after the workshop was over. Maybe you formed a little group and continue to send your stories/poems/whatever to them on occassion. Then you get together and talk turkey.

I'm betting many of you have.

Sometimes these groups form from direct contact in workshops. Other times--as I saw today on Craigslist--they form very deliberately, in the form of ads for writers. However they form, writing groups can be a really invigorating way to develop as a writer. Let me ask you all (all of you who are out there. Hello? Hello? Anyone there?), Are you in a writer's group? Yes? No? If yes, what are your stories? Is there a particular number that is good when forming a group? How large is your group? Is 4 in the group okay but 5 too many? Did you form the group because you have different tastes or similar?

Look for a post from WC instructor Susan Land tomorrow. She's going to discuss revising her story--which placed second--in Bethesda Magazine's recent contest.

Oh, and let me know if you're having trouble subscribing to this blog or making a comment.


Art said...

I wrote a very long -- and if I say so myself, eloquent -- comment to this blog entry, only to have Blogspot erase it and give me an error message: "Sorry!"

I'll try to recreate.

I DO belong to a writing group, but while I very much value the wisdom and expertise of my fellow writers in the group, we don't meet as frequently as we once did, due to job schedules, family demands, a widening geographical base, etc. etc. At one point, we were meeting monthly, sharing new work, etc., and I left those meetings feeling "pumped up" about writing and often carried that momentum to the keyboard the next day. Now, our situation is different: Each of us is working on longer projects (novels) that don't lend themselves to a revisit. But whenever a full draft (of anything) has been ready, we arranged to together and discuss and (I think) offer one another the kind of critique necessary to that stage of the process. I don't think a writer can do without at least a first round of readers, and even if our writing group doesn't meet frequently, we can still serve that purpose.

To that end, I also want to add that I have a trio of friends (one of whom is in my official writing group) with whom I've formed a second, unofficial writing group as well, though I don't think any of us would call it that. But with whatever I've written -- a quick short story, a review, even a letter -- I've always gone to at least one, usually two and sometimes all three of them for comments and critiques. And more than that, those folks are there to offer support and encouragement on a bad writing day, to lend an ear whenever I'm having trouble working past a block or figuring out a scene, or just to offer a diversion when it's time to leave the computer for awhile (and often it is!). I don't know what I'd do without them, and I only hope that I can offer something similar to them in return.

Writing is a lonely profession, a lonely life. Sometimes as we try to navigate the maze that is the blank page (or the blank computer screen, as the case may be), it's good to have someone who can help ensure we don't get lost as we struggle to make our way.

Serena said...

writing can be incredibly lonely. I think the right mix of writers can improve each member's ability to write well. Projects gain a momentum of their own, but sometimes ruts happen and workshops can spur greater movement.