5 Reasons to Start a Writing Group

By Mark Nichol

You know about writing groups — folks who meet at regular intervals to share excerpts from works in progress, exchange tips and information, and discuss conventions such as character, plot, narrative, and tone. But you’ve always shrugged the idea off — yet it keeps coming back. Maybe you should reconsider. Here’s why:

1. Discipline

Starting a writing group helps you develop deadline discipline because you are accountable for being ready for the next meeting. Such a support structure is a great cure for procrastination and practice for turning manuscripts in on time.

2. Motivation

Meeting with kindred spirits helps motivate you to keep trying in the face of adversity, whether it’s in the form of a busy schedule or writer’s block. Writing is by necessity a solitary pursuit — but only when you’re pecking away at your keyboard. Interacting at intervals with a small community of like-minded people will give you the nudges you need.

3. Support

You’ll benefit from the empathy of others who have also received rejection letters or, just like you, have felt that they didn’t have what it takes to succeed. A writing group will encourage you without being ingratiating.

4. Edification

You’ll learn from others — and feel a boost of confidence when others acknowledge the value of your advice and information. Whether or not you’re comfortable with your grasp of the building blocks of writing — character and the other aspects I mentioned above — you’ll note alternative approaches, and it’ll make you feel good to offer your own.

Besides learning and teaching about the craft of writing, you can exchange ideas about research and taking notes; finding competitions, publications, or an agent; and preparing pitches and proposals. Remember this: Teaching is one of the most effective ways to learn.

5. Feedback

Most important, you’ll get objective, instructive feedback not only on your works in progress but also on your pitches. Go ahead and ask your partner or close friends to evaluate your writing, but consider how much more you will get out of honest, informed responses from people without emotional attachments to you.

Why Me?

Starting your own group, rather than joining a new or existing one, allows you to call the shots — at least when it comes to forming the group. Don’t be the mom; just set the parameters: group size and meeting setting, type or length of writing form, method and other ground rules for presenting works in progress, and so on. And you get to select your compatriots for compatibility with you and your goals and guidelines.

The Next Chapter

So, now that I’ve convinced you about the why, how about the how? Stay tuned.

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7 Responses to “5 Reasons to Start a Writing Group”

  • Rebecca

    Starting your own writing group is a great idea. After trying out writers groups, you may conclude that they’re more social events. As the leader of the group, you can lead it in the writing group in the right direction and keep everyone on track.

  • ApK

    Starting your own group is a great idea, but if everyone did that, we’d all be in groups of one!

    It might be worth while to see what existing groups are available to you and give them a shot first. If you find one that you love, great! If not, you can use the experience to help you make good choices in starting your own group.

    This was my experience in starting a musical jam session as well.

    ApK

  • Terrie

    I have a wordpress site with blog. The purpose was to drive traffic to our primary site where we sell storage products. I can’t find the time or inspiration to write blog entries even though I think I write some relatively entertaining posts. I’ve tried hiring some bloggers but I can’t believe just how infantile the examples have been from people that claim to be professionals. I really don’t expect prefection but just like with SEO firms, there are few people these days that are not spinning content, farming work overseas, or simply not interested in putting in real work to earn a buck. I would love any feedback, suggestions, or referrals. Thank you.

  • Mark Nichol

    Terrie:

    Your note is off topic, but it’s also pressing and pertinent. Look for a post about it next week, and thanks for the topic suggestion!

  • Shawn

    I was catching up on all my blog reading when I came across this post. The idea of Writing Groups intrigue me.

    I work in communications, mainly graphic design and layout. My personal growth goal this year is to improve my writing skills. This would mean writing paragraphs for promotional materials and proofing letters as they come across my desk.

    I know that starting a new writing group would not be what I needed. But do writing groups existed to help individuals who are lacking in skill or are they mainly for professional writers? How do you find local writing groups?

    Thanks for all your help. DailyWritingTips has already helped me improve my skills this year.

  • Mark Nichol

    Shawn:

    There are writing groups for all skill levels. Just look for flyers at libraries, cafes, and other writerly haunts, or go online and search “[your community] writing group.”

    Good luck!

  • Vickie

    Thank you for writing this page. It was very encouraging, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who believes that you must have been writing about me. All of your examples have crossed my mind at one time or another. I found myself shaking my head in many of your descriptions.

    Although, I’ve been writing and posting my work on writing.com and getting good reviews, I still question the response. My mind reels back and forth between whether I’m actually a good writer, or if my membership fees are doing all of the talking. I just don’t want to make a fool of myself.

    There are only a couple of writing groups here in the far reaches of West Texas, and they are limited on membership, so your suggestion about starting my own writing group is a great idea!

    Looks like you have a new subscriber! I’ll add myself to your email list.

    Thanks again!

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