Being a writer can be a solitary affair — just you and a page or a screen to fill with words that need to somehow evoke a response in others. (And ideally, the response you were aiming for.)
But starting or joining a writing group can benefit all writers — whether you’re an amateur or well-established. Writing groups offer:
Support and encouragement
All good writing groups should offer support and encouragement as standard. Sharing any piece of writing, from pressing ‘send’, to public readings is nerve-wracking. It never gets easier!
So having a safe, supportive environment in which you can vocalise ideas, read excerpts and receive feedback is extremely beneficial for any writer.
The chance to increase your writing confidence
Reading flash fiction and poetry aloud at my writer’s group has done wonders for my writing confidence.
Despite a hammering heart (and an underlying terror at being asked to leave the group the first time I shared my writing), I’m now able to confidently discuss my own pieces in a collaborative and constructive way. And I’m always as grateful for the suggestions, as the praise.
I also feel more able to make suggestions to other members of the group about their writing. This can sometimes be harder to do face-to-face. As a professional editor, I definitely find giving virtual comments and suggested changes easier.
More networking opportunities
My writing group is small and I love that. Its dynamics work well, and I’d worry about the impact on its feeling of intimacy if the group became too large.
But, although the group itself is small, there are still networking opportunities to be had. In our group there are two published authors, several writing competition winners and two members who write for others as well as themselves (one of which is me).
All these achievements bring with them great knowledge of different writing and publishing processes, connections to other writers and publishing/illustration professionals, and — if you’re lucky — attendance at book launches and book fairs.
Joining a writing group has inspired me to dig out all the stories and poems I wrote for my creative writing degree, as well as older stories and poems I wrote in my teens and twenties.
I’m in the process of editing and repurposing it all for competitions and other exciting ventures I am planning. I am also devoting time each week to writing new stories, blogs and poems – one of which was a winning pitch in a recent business meeting.
Suddenly, I’m fired up again after all these years of neglecting writing for pleasure (and potentially profit) and it is all due to my writing group.
Another extremely happy consequence of being a member of a writing group is all the book talk. Reviews, reflections and recommendations are fantastic inspiration for writers who are usually fanatical readers too.
Information about writing competitions
The agenda for every one of our meetings includes sharing details of upcoming writing competitions.
Several of our members have been shortlisted for and/or won quite a few competitions, including the annual Val Wood prize (now closed for 2018)!
I recently entered two of my own poems into Forward Poetry competitions, and have subscribed to a few other sites which run or list writing competitions.
- The National Poetry Library,
- The Big List of Writing Competitions by Neon Books
- Creative Writing Ink
- The Writer’s Academy
- Christopher Fielden
There are also blogs which feature competitions listed month by month if you prefer a bitesize format. And Rupert Dastur from TSS Publishing frequently tweets writing competition related content.
Accountability and motivation
Without a doubt, joining a writing group has motivated me to write even more!
Being surrounded and encouraged by fellow published authors and competition winners (some several times over), has — in a positive and creative way — made me conscious of pulling my own weight in the writing stakes.
I want to be able to bring fresh, quality writing to share each week. I want to be able to announce a competition shortlist or win.
I want the joy of seeing my own writing covering pages and pages of crisp, white paper, bound between the beautifully designed cover of a physical book. (Even if it is, initially, as a ghostwriter.)
A writing group that inspires, encourages and motivates you to be a better writer is truly a wonderful thing.
If you’re thinking about finding, joining or starting a writing group, it may be worth investigating these avenues to help find the right one for you:
- your local library
- local community spaces/publications/fairs
- word of mouth
If you’re already a member of a writing group and looking for new members, let everyone know where and when to find you, so they can experience the benefits of a writing group too!