Writing Groups

2010
01.20

Tonight, while sitting in my writers group, I got to thinking about how lucky I am. The group of people involved are ALL so very talented, that I would have to be a complete moron NOT to learn something awesome.

Mark my words. If I ever become a well known author, it will be because I joined a writers group.

Which leads me to my next point: should you, or should you not join a group? The answer is (as if you couldn’t figure it out by now)… YES.

There is a trick, though. You have to find a good one. Here are some things to look for while looking for a good group:

1) Size. If thee group is HUGE, you will probably never get your work critiqued. Not to say that there isn’t a benefit from editing and reading others work, but you will never know what YOU are doing wrong (or right) until you get good feedback.

2) Genre. While you can be loose with this one, I think it’s easier to be in a group that writes (or at least a few write) in the same genre as you do. That way, you all are on the same page with the expectations of that genre.

3) Review style. I have been to a group where everyone reads their piece aloud. While I am thankful that they let me through the doors, I don’t understand how you can REALLY critique someone’s writing when they are READING it. It is easy to miss things (and impossible to catch others, like typos, etc.) when you aren’t actually reading it. Plus, the speaker/author can put inflection in his voice that might not be in the text, distorting what a reader might catch.

You really should find a group where people actually share the work ahead of time, then give time to read and edit before the meeting. This, I find, provides the most benefit.

4) Competency. While newbies should definitely stick together and help each other out, there needs to be at least some (although, the more the better) veteran writers. That doesn’t mean published exactly, just experienced. Otherwise, it’s the blind leading the blind.

5) Frequency. The more often the better! Now this, of course, will vary on your own schedule, but once a month isn’t going to cut it. At least 3 times a month, and that’s a minimum.

So, what to do now that you have found your group? Jump in head first. Start critiquing right away. I don’t care if your new and have never written before. All that means as that you are providing the opinion of the average reader… which is GREAT!

As soon as you feel comfortable (or sooner if you tend to be shy), submit something. Anything. Spend some time on it, but this will be your signpost for where you are as a writer… kind of like in school when they test you at the beginning of the year to see where everyone is. You NEED to know where you stand, so you can see where to climb to.

I am currently a member of the Fresno Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers Group, or FSFW. We are currently working on a new site, which I will post as soon as it is up. If you are lucky enough to find a group as good as the one I am in, then do whatever you can to join. Your writing will improve ten fold.

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