Writing Groups

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Although I’ve been seriously writing for a number of years, it is only recently that I have joined a writers group in my local community.  I now wish I had joined earlier.  The group I belong to is small, but covers a number of genres and interests.  One lady is using a series of diaries she acquired to write an historical work of non-fiction.  Another writes a lot of poetry, much of it very funny.  Others still are writing novels ranging from mysteries to literary fiction.  Gathered around the table, once a week, is a plethora of knowledge and experience.

I bring something to the table myself.  Besides a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, I have a background in Public Relations, am very involved with social media, and have a bit of knack for knowing what sells.

I’ve loved listening to others share their work.  I don’t want to copy anyone, but I have been inspired by them.  When I first shared my own work I was petrified.  These lovely people do not pull punches in offering constructive criticism.  It’s helping me to develop a thick skin, and to be able to decide for myself how much of what they have said I want to take on board.

Last week they helped me to realise that I was incorporating too much backstory and research into my opening chapters.  I resolved to jump right in with the most dramatic scene in the novel.  I also decided to switch to writing in the first person in order to help me maintain the correct viewpoint, and to give me greater ability to talk about my character’s thoughts and feelings.

Because there is an expectation that you will share something, it makes me much more disciplined about my writing and I have found thatI have got a lot more done.  I’m also stretched by a monthly assignment that we set for one another.  Where would you go if you were given the words “in the name…”?

At the end of the day, I only want to get better at writing, and these people are helping me to do so.  I highly recommend finding a local writers group for yourself, and if there isn’t one, why not think about starting one?  Check out Writers-Online for a list of groups. You’d be surprised how many other writers are lurking behind closed doors in your own neighbourhood that would love to connect with other scribblers.

Community Drives Creativity

Every morning, before I sit down to write, I make myself a piping hot mug of caramel hot chocolate, and sift through tweets and FB posts.  More and more I have made a bee-line for one particular group on Twitter who gather around the hashtag 12399438_10153297370191961_1530400782_n#amwriting.  Started by Johanna Harness back in 2009, this is an incredible group of individuals who all count writing as their profession. All over the world they get up each morning and begin their day of words counts, drafts, timelines, character sketches, letters to editors etc, and they tweet about it as they go.

Writing can be an incredibly solitary occupation; a fact which is something of an oxymoron when you consider the fact that writers are often fantastic observers of people.  They are frequently able to put themselves in the shoes of another, and paint pictures with words of what life can be like through another’s eyes.  But it can be hard to attempt to do this entirely alone.  As John Donn famously said, “no man is an island unto himself.”

It has been a wonderful experience for me to discover that I am part of a community much bigger than myself; to hear from published authors and novices like myself, of their daily struggle to put pen to paper and tease out of their overactive imaginations new frontiers previously hidden worlds, and, at times, colourful characters.  I have already learned a great deal about the writing process itself from my fellow tweeters, and have started to engage in a small amount of conversation myself.

Even when I am struggling to get a sentence out, or am wrestling with which direction to take a plot line, I can pop on to Twitter and find words of encouragement, wisdom and support.  I think I can honestly say that since finding this community, and others like it, my productivity and creativity has increased exponentially. I am a-muse-d by it all, and can’t wait to see where it will lead.

So whether you are a struggling writer in a loft in New York City, a dreaming poet in the Australian Outback, an established author in a villa in Spain, or like me, a newbie, from a cosy corner of England, come join the party that is #amwriting and see where your creativity leads you from there.  Community drives creativity.  If you are a writer this is one community you will not want to miss.