Monday, February 9, 2015

Find your tribe part 2: Writing groups

February is secret weapons month here at The Prosers. At first I was going to write about weapons development for fiction because I'd revealed all of my secret weapons, hadn't I? But then I realized that no one had written about writing groups on the blog before, including me. So I'm going to raise the hem again and show you the last little bit.

Why groups?

If you want to develop as a writer it's not enough to just write until your fingers bleed. You must strive to do better with each story. But Nina, you say, how do I know what I need to work on? Well this is where other people come in. Preferably other people who also read a lot in your genre. And while your family and friends may be a source of great joy they most likely won't be able to give you the sort of hard feedback you need. A good group will have writers at around the same level of proficiency with slight variance. That way everyone can benefit from each other and really know what the others are going through craft and career wise.

Groups can also form around a similar agenda. Right now I'm in two writing groups; one that meets twice a week to chat and write and another that formed around the idea that all of us have novels that we want to workshop. Since one of my goals in writing and in life is to win the Writers of the Future competition and this will hopefully be my final year of eligibility, I'm looking to start a third group with people trying to accomplish the same goal. A group can console you when you're down, celebrate your victories with you as well as spur you on to greater achievements.

All writing groups were not created equal

Not all writing groups will work for all people. If you need the critique you get to be mostly encouraging and you end up in a group that is all about the straight talk with zero pussyfooting, you'll end up miserable and vice versa. If your group consists of literary types and you're all about the purple unicorns? Back away slowly. You love urban fantasy and your group is filled with people who vehemently dislike the first person POV. Not your implementation of it, just the very concept of someone writing in a first person point of view? That is probably not the group for you. The same goes the other way of course. A gorup of YA and urban fantasy writers is probably not the place for you if you consider the very idea of first person to be unprofessional.

All of this is basically to say that if you've tried being in a group before and found the experience frustrating, it may just be a factor of you being in the wrong group. So try, try again.

How can I get one?

So right now, I'm in two writing groups both of them a direct result of having taken Mary Robinette Kowal's class Writing on the Fast Track. I was in the class my friend Andy has dubbed "the human trials" which is to say the second time Mary ran the class. The first class had formed a writing group and kindly took us under their wings. The second happened after Mary thought to bring all her alumni to one Facebook group. 

You can find writing groups on social media, bars, coffeeshops, colleges, libraries. Pretty much anywhere that writers congregate. Or you can form one of your own! Anything can happen. Go into the light.

1 comment:

  1. I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be then me.


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