Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Value of Local Writing Groups

A few weeks ago, I posted a mock-plea for a mentor (mock, that is, unless anyone wants to take on the role).  A few months before that, I posted a worrisome rant about leaving graduate school and, consequently, an accountable and invaluable community of readers and writers who were guaranteed to be there.  Apparently I need writers around me all the time or I panic.

It's probably no surprise that I am part of a writing group in San Antonio, a hodgepodge of talented writers, who contribute varied perspectives and advice while also producing an eclectic mixture of submissions.  We meet every month (we all have day jobs, and even this is stretching it), but it's only after graduating that I realize how valuable this small community of writers is to my own development and literary peace of mind.

Groups like this don't always work so well.  I've heard horror stories about friends joining groups that are harsh and competitive or worse still, filled with people-pleasing hacks who are only there to stroke egos over fattening coffee drinks and scones.  So, for all my whining and worrying about not having a paid community, I've neglected to mention what I do have--a dynamic, albeit small, group of serious writers, honest reviewers, who keep me going.

If you don't have a writing group, I highly suggest finding one.  Like the love of your life, the psychologist who isn't crazier than you, the best friend or the well-behaved dog, it might take a few false starts to find that perfect group, but they're out there.  Believe me.  One place to find writing groups in your area is on Meetup, especially if you've recently moved or are unaware of the writing community in your area.  Another option is to find online writing groups, such as those on Goodreads.

My group came together slowly.  At first it was just me and a friend trading work.  When we took a writing course on flash fiction, the teacher's style intrigued me and I invited him to join.  From there, one by one, people began to show interest and just like that a writing group was formed.  But this doesn't always happen, sometimes it just doesn't work, or other members are not as invested as you, and so it's always a gamble.  But it's worth it to try.

[what does that frog have to do with anything?]


  1. Glad your group is a good one. I don't belong to a writing club, but I have two test readers who aren't afraid to be honest with my work.

  2. That's awesome. Honesty is the most valuable thing when it comes to readers. (I'm up for trading short work, if you're ever interested.)


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