In Support of Writing Groups

My local writing group met tonight — some are members since April, 2009’s first meeting and some are more recent implants.

“Okay,” says one member. “Who’s leading the meeting tonight?”

Nobody knew.

“I’ll find some words for the writing exercise,” said another. Then he read them off, one by one.

Fifteen minutes of silent pen-to-paper endeavor and everybody had something to share. Even our youngest member, the 10-year-old son of one of our newer participants. His prowess with words is amazing for one so young. That is a great motivator for the rest of us. If a pre-teen can write, so can we.

It is a continual amazement to me the different voices in the group. Seven or eight people, all receiving the same words, writing stories that are different from one another (even if they have similar themes) and reflecting each contributors unique writing style.

After the exercise those who wish to will read something they’ve written in the past two weeks. One writes memoir (usually hilarious), another also writes memoir that is beautifully lyrical, poignant, and thought provoking. Others write fiction of different types: science fiction, fantasy, slice of life. One member reads the revisions to her nearly-finished novel.

Why do we read to one another? Reasons vary. Some read seeking approval for their efforts. Several read, asking for brutal critique (never unkind, though) and others read asking for suggestions regarding trouble spots in their manuscript.

“Can’t that all be done through blogs and e-mails?” you ask. Yes it can. But I don’t like it as well. By meeting with flesh and blood people I can see their reactions, even if they don’t utter a word about what I’ve written. As I listen to them read I hear their compositions from their perspective. This is given away by their phrasing, tone of voice, emotion or lack there-of.

It is the last statement that is the most appealing to me. Sometimes group members pass out copies of what they read. Occasionally I read said missives aloud to my husband. I can hear the writer’s voice as I read and sometimes the memory of what I heard comes through in how I phrase the wording as I share it.

The biggest advantage, I am convinced, is that I’m not always hearing my own voice as I read. People tout how many “friends” they have through social media, including blogs. But are they really friends or just cyber-acquaintances? Through our writing group we learn more about each other than mere words can convey. We encourage one another in our writing and in life. That is why I prefer working with wordsmiths that have skin on them.

Do you belong to a writing group? If you do, what do you like best about it? If you don’t, why not?


About torimcrae

Tori is a good writer aspiring to be a great writer. The mother of four adult kids she is currently pursuing postponed dreams. She enjoys her grandkids, traveling with hubby, spinning fiber, weaving, and raising Shih Tzus. Currently Tori posts to this blog on Mondays and Fridays.
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5 Responses to In Support of Writing Groups

  1. torimcrae says:

    Oops! I didn’t mean to imply all those of you in the blog-o-sphere don’t have skin. I just prefer what I can see and sit next to. My visual/tactile nature coming out I suppose.

  2. I used to belong to such a group but it disintegrated; someone moved away, someone died, someone got a job being paid to teach creative writing evening classes…
    None of my ‘real life’ friends or acquaintances seem to be the slightest bit interested in blogs or the like; they happily either read or ignore what I write in the print-on-paper Parish Magazine each month and every so often someone might comment when I happen to see them but there is precious little feedback.

  3. Pingback: Writing groups: What can you gain from them? | Kathryn Spurgeon

  4. torimcrae says:

    It is hard to find a steady group to give feedback on one’s writing. Heaven knows it’s in short supply from the sources you mention. Family politely reads it with a gentle “ho-hum.” Friends have read my stuff and mostly liked it (the fiction, that is) but they don’t read it with a critical eye as to it’s quality. That is why I like our little group so much. One of the rules from the get-go is that you commit to being at group meetings except for sickness or vacations. There are about four members who have been there since day one. Three newer people have been very consistent. We all get the same thing, I think, that is precious to each one of us: feedback in the form of constructive criticism.

    I’m signed onto the online version of “The Writer” magazine and I noticed they have a category for finding Writing Groups. Maybe you could check that out. Our group formed through our founder putting an advert. in our local weekly news. That was how I found it. Maybe you could do the same.

  5. Cyranette says:

    I belonged to a writers group many years ago and attended several writing conferences, which I loved. I have since moved and my town does not seem to be big on writing; however, I need to check out the library. Usually that is a good place to look…I believe, everyone can find one evening a month to gather, converse, and receive positive feedback. If I cannot find a group, I may start. Thank you for spurring me on.

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