For the past one-and-a-half years I’ve been meeting with a few dedicated individuals who — like I — are slightly crazy with the vision to break into the world of professional authoring. What started as a continuation of a workshop has morphed into a serious bi-weekly meeting that none of us miss unless we have to leave the country or are on our deathbed.
We have all been around the block a few times but the best parts of our group are that
1. We represent all walks of life from an anthropologist to a veterinarian and physical therapist, a U.S.-Canadian and a U.S.-German. Grammar wizards and science enthusiasts, we are a mixed pot who has in common that we are looking to develop into serious writers.
2. We are tough but loving, giving each other the feedback that is necessary, good and bad, the things we missed or glossed over, bad punctuation, obsolete paragraphs and crumbling structures.
3. We are dedicated to find our genres, including thrillers, non-fiction humor, mystery, paranormal and historical.
What it takes to be a Member
A writers group isn’t for everyone and we have seen our share of people joining and leaving. Mostly because they couldn’t take criticism or underestimated the commitment, both in time and discipline, it takes to participate.
I admit it’s never easy to hear others take apart your work. After all we want to be praised and coddled, told that we are the next Hemmingway, Grisham or Crichton. Yet, in order to grow and develop our skills, we must be open to listen and learn. As with most things in life, and sorry for using a cliché, practice makes if not perfect at least better.
It’s no big deal. Just a couple hours to meet every two weeks should fit in everyone’s schedule. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. When committing to a group, one has to find time to write and submit as well as edit the work of others. Each group is different but the requirement of submitting regularly is a wonderful way to keep you on your writing toes.
Starting a Group
If you consider starting your own group, ask around at local bookstores or better yet, participate in a few writers’ workshops at your local college or university. You will meet likeminded individuals and should be able to initiate a group. Six to eight people are ideal but a bit larger or smaller can work as well. Larger groups may take turns submitting since it’s challenging to review more than four or five pieces per session unless you are meeting for long periods of time.
I’m always amazed how something I submitted will be picked apart and the slight unease, I felt when writing, bubbles to the surface during our discussion. My group isn’t fooled easily and though it may be painful it is always rewarding. I can say that I look forward to each session and truly appreciate my group’s willingness to spend time with my work and their help in making me a better writer. It’s coming up Monday and I better get to it. I owe two chapters.