Hello, writing friends! Hannah here. Today’s blog post is brought to you by my friend Krista Douglas. We meet almost weekly to hang out, write, and help each other grow as writers, so I was super excited when she agreed to write a post for the blog! Enjoy. 😄
Most of us are familiar with the idea of the “lone writer,” i.e., the concept that writers are solitary creatures who prefer to clack away at their typewriters behind closed doors, demanding silence and bemoaning a lack of creative inspiration.
I used to think writers were actually like this, and I too kept my work private, never discussing my writing with even my closest friends or family. A few years ago, however, I decided I wanted to get serious about my writing.
I wasn’t producing the writing that I knew I was capable of. I wasn’t writing enough or as well as I would have liked. I decided I needed outside help and started exploring writing groups. Since then, I have joined several different writing groups across the country, and I have subsequently produced more writing than I ever have. In fact, I have written more in the last two years than I probably have in all prior years combined.
I discovered that even simply sharing working space with other writers was a huge benefit to my writing career. How did joining a writing group improve my productivity? I found there to be several reasons.
#1 They help you stick to a consistent writing schedule.
Having a consistent meeting day and time helps you to maintain a weekly writing habit. For instance, if your writing groups meets each Saturday at 2:00 PM, you will always know that time is reserved for writing. When writing alone in your home, it is easy to find excuses not to write. Suddenly, the plants need watering or you notice how much dust has collected on your picture frames. Before you know it, you are doing household chores or watching Netflix instead of writing.
A writing group holds you accountable for sitting and writing at a certain time each week. It is much harder to brush off writing plans when you’ve committed to meeting other members of your group.
#2 They introduce you to new writing opportunities.
When you join a writing group, you will find yourself surrounded by people at all stages of writing. Some members may already be published authors working on a second or third book. Others may be new writers who have just discovered their passion for literature later in life. Each member brings something unique to the group and are sources of support.
Writing group meetings are a great way to exchange contact details and swap writing resources. In one group, I learned about writing conference opportunities from fellow writer friends and even attended writing conferences with them. A published author in your group may know a literary agent that is looking for fantasy manuscripts exactly like the one you are working on. Or that brand new writer in the group may have just discovered a writing workshop led by a local author.
#3 Writing groups offer the chance for collaboration.
In one of my writing groups, a friend and I discovered our mutual interest in writing for children. Together, we brainstormed ideas about how we could earn extra income and decided to collaborate on a writing project for TeachersPayTeachers, a website that provides resources to teachers. My friend has a background in graphic design, and I have a background in education. Together, we were able to design literature-based classroom tools to sell online. This collaboration was a wonderful way to learn the process of co-writing material.
#4 Members can provide moral support for one another.
Writing is not always a simple endeavor. It is easy to get discouraged by rejection e-mails or by a lack of inspiration for a new project. Trying to find time to brainstorm, outline, write, edit, and publish while working a full-time day job can also be exhausting.
A writing group can make these experiences more manageable. Knowing that your friends are going through the same difficulties can be helpful. These friends also provide a support network to assist you through the tougher times and offer solutions to writing problems.
Joining a writing group was one of the most important steps I took in my path as a writer. If you haven’t considered joining one before, I suggest attending a couple meetings with a group to see if it is a good fit for you. You can find one by checking community event calendars, Meetup and Facebook groups, and your local bookstore. If a writing group doesn’t already exist in your area, create one! You may find that there are many other “lone” writers looking to network.
To learn more tips for beginning writers, visit Krista’s blog, Paper Crow Blog, at papercrowblog.wordpress.com, where she shares her experiences diving into the world of writing.