Today is the five-year anniversary of my little writing group.
This is quite the milestone, because before the Sparkling Werewolves (our group is nothing if not sarcastic) I was quite adamant that writing groups didn’t work.
After everything I had been through, you couldn’t really blame me.
My first group consisted of me and two male writer friends. We met at my home on a monthly basis, and it was great–except for the fact that two of us weren’t writing. Month after month, we showed up empty handed, and instead of being inspired as our friend churned out a novel, we got more disillusioned and depressed.
Suddenly, my two friends campaigned to add another guy to the group. Admittedly, I balked at the idea of welcoming a stranger into my home. I wondered how our dynamic would change, although I was more than willing to meet this “newbie.” But before I knew it, our group wasn’t meeting anymore. My friends were always too busy. I eventually found out that they’d started meeting with the newbie instead, and before I knew it, they’d added two more people to their new group.
One of my friends apologized for meeting behind my back, and promised I could join their group any time I liked. So the following year, when I finally started writing seriously again, I asked if I could participate.
The answer? No, because they were afraid their dynamic might change! Figures. Sadly, I found out that one of my own friends had voted against me joining. 🙁
I found another group who met at a bookstore. This group was full of strangers, some of whom became very close friends. It was great…until the group leader, whom we all loved, moved away. Everything seemed to fall apart after that. It just wasn’t the same, even though everyone tried to keep it going. Even though it had been a fun social experience, I doubted it had done anything to improve my writing, so I left.
I was invited to yet another group, which ended up not being a good mix. One person loudly dominated both meetings I attended, and that was the end of that. No more group. People didn’t know how to get rid of her, so they just stopped showing up.
After this last experience, I wasn’t shy about saying writing groups were a waste of time. I’d heard agents disparage them, saying they resulted in manuscripts that read like they’d been written by committee. Over time I missed the camaraderie that comes from talking, brainstorming and commiserating with a group of writers.
Unable to find a group that fit me, I started my own. The Sparkling Werewolves has had five members, but it’s settled into three–a horror writer, a romance writer, and a young-adult writer. In the time we’ve been meeting, two of us have been published, and the one who hasn’t been (yet) inspires us everyday with his work ethic, his enthusiasm, and his ability to go without sleep for days at a time.
We avoid two of the pitfalls that have befallen Writing Groups of the Past. With some exceptions, we don’t read each other’s work for critique–we’re too busy. We also don’t read our work aloud at meetings. What we do is share resources and information (one member is responsible for my awesome book trailer; the other told me about the Samhain call that resulted in my first published book), plan and set goals, celebrate our accomplishments, and commiserate over our failures.
Over the past few years, the people in my writing group have become two of my closest friends. I look forward to seeing them every month, and it’s a great comfort to know we always have each other’s backs.
Writing is one of the loneliest jobs in the world–but it doesn’t have to be.
Do you have a writing group? Why or why not? How have writing groups worked for you? Would you ever consider starting one of your own?
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Escape Your Cubicle!
Lots of people ask me how I managed to quit the day job and make working for myself a reality. I’d love to help as many people as I can, so I’m offering a four-week online course this fall that will teach you how to turn your passion into a sustainable income.
If this is something you’d be interested in, please let me know in the comments. You can also send me an email at jh (at) jhmoncrieff (dot) com. What is your passion? What keeps you from escaping your cubicle right now? And how do you learn best? Do you prefer podcasts, videos, or emails?