Welcome to January’s resolution time! Two weeks is enough time to reflect on 2018 and decide what you might want in 2019 right? That’s right, I’m talking writers’ goals! It’s that fun and dreaded time to commit to completing story X, writing Y amount of words a day, seeking and learning from critical feedback, improving weakness C in your writing, ect. What’s your writing resolution(s)?
It’s been a year since the North Alabama Writers’ Group posted in this blog, and I opened our first post with New Year’s Resolutions. It seems fitting that 365 days later, I offer a reminder that a writers’s group can help you reach those goals.
Why Join a Writers’ Group?
People join writing groups, classes, and programs for many reasons. I think the two primary reasons to join/meet is:
-Improve writing. We are looking for someone to suggest skills and styles we don‘t have. We may need proofreading. We are looking for others to help us past writer’s block. Or maybe we just need another person to tell us we’ve “jumped the shark” or lost reader’s interest.
-Motivate us to keep writing. A constant struggle whether a hobby or full-time is to keep writing and maintain commitment to the one project. We may love that work as we’ve loved nothing else in our lives, but it is difficult to keep working on it and striving for completion. Whether you struggle in the first draft or the second, there is a point where you think “I can‘t do this, no one will see what I’ve done as I do and that‘s the best gift I could give my creation”. A group either through feedback or encouragement helps us get through this struggle of sorrow and ambivalence. They help push us.
A third, perhaps lesser reason to join a writers’ group is to become part of a community. Writing is a lonely journey. It’s nice to get together and speak to others who have the same struggles and maybe the same thought process.
Are There Different Writers’ Groups?
Yes. Some exist to work together on group projects. Other’s give out weekly assignments, like a class, and they ask everyone to produce something from a related theme. Still others are more open and each writer pursues their own project, sharing as they are ready. In some writing groups, no one shares any work at all, they gather to commiserate over the process and perhaps hold brainstorm sessions for each other.
Can one writers’ group accommodate all these different goals?
Maybe? In the North Alabama Writers’ Group we struggle to balance differing expectations of our growing group. It’s hard because all writers go through periods of low creativity. Writers also have varying temperaments and accommodating everyone at one meeting can be a challenge.
To help with some conflicting desires, sometimes it’s good if a larger group breaks out into sub groups. We do this at meetings when those who would like to take part in our blitz round robin break off from other writers who would prefer to discuss their own ongoing works.
We always allow time for those who want to read their recent works aloud to share, but we force no one to read out loud.
We have multiple online spaces. Google document sharing happens between writers looking for more structured commentary. This blog is a space for general writing conversations and topics we may not always explore in the face-to-face meetings. Our Facebook group allows for link sharing in a less formal format.
That’s great, but this post should tell me how a Writers’ Group helps me reach my goals!
A good writers group wants to support each of their writers goals and ambitions whether it’s a hobby or it’s something the person is seeking to pursue professionally. While balancing different levels of expectation and production is difficult, it’s important you take the time to get to know the people in a group and see if what they are offering will help you in your process.
Do you leave filled with creative energy and the desire to write? Does the group’s feedback present new avenues for you in your story or future re-writes? Are you able to co-author works with your group or perform a writing exercise at your meeting that helps get your process started? Does the group link you out to other writers, editors and publishers and can you grow through networking and differing perspectives?
I can‘t promise that all writers’ groups will help a writer. And I won’t promise that the North Alabama Writers’ Group is a good fit for everyone, but I would encourage all writers to find a group/person that supports and drives them forward. You may have to create the content in solitude, but you don’t have to travel through the whole journey alone.