Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Writers’ Groups – to join or not?

with 6 comments

On the advice and encouragement of Björn Rudberg I have recently been looking for a writing group to join. I need feedback on my writing to improve, and my last two attempts at attending short writing courses in order to achieve this were not successful. As I live on a boat and move around at least six-months of the year, attending meetings regularly in the same place has presented a problem. However, with improved planning and increased access to a car, I have been attending dance classes – something I want to do – so there is no excuse not to join a writers’ group – something I need to do.

I began my search earlier in the year by considering the area within which I generally cruise. This gave me the option of four towns, all of which I imagined might have a writing group. Town A, the largest and farthest away, has a large writing group with a waiting list, so that’s no use. Town B, the closest, has suggestions of a small writing group online, but its social media posts are three years old and contact details hard to find. Town C has a well-advertised group that meets once a week for two hours and a schedule that follows the school year. Town D’s group is relatively new and meets once a month for two hours. I contacted the coordinators of groups C and D and made arrangements to attend both. Unfortunately, work intervened and I didn’t get to Group C before the school holidays and the start of their summer break. However, earlier this month I cycled through a storm and managed to attend a meeting of Group D.

I was lucky to find the group receiving a talk from author Tessa Harris on how to write suspense. This is not something I do and it was interesting to have the technical differences between suspense and mystery writing explained. I was also pleasantly surprised at being able to perform under pressure, completing a five-minute exercise and coming up with something to share with the rest of the group. We all took turns to read out something created during the session and Tessa helpfully pointed out where we had taken on board her teaching. Constructive criticism was not forthcoming from other group members on this occasion, but I imagine it will be in future when the group meets to discuss topics of interest based on members’ current needs and interests. I will be going to my second meeting next month, to see what a usual meeting is like. I am minded to carry on and, depending how useful I find it, I might also try again with groups C and B to see what they have to offer.

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

July 30, 2017 at 6:43 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Yes, this is a good move.

    tnkerr

    July 30, 2017 at 7:42 pm

  2. I joined a writing group just over two years ago and it was a great move. It gave me the motivation to finish my second novel which I’d been tinkering with for four years. I was introduced to a whole network and series of opportunities that I didn’t know existed previously.
    I’ve just released my third novel and I’m onto edit number two of my fourth.
    The group gave me the confidence to make the leap to full time writing eighteen months ago and I’m still going strong.
    A handful of us formed our own informal critique group and regularly review each other’s work and bounce ideas off each other. We critique within the wider group as well however in the smaller one, we understand what sort of feedback is needed/welcome.
    I think I struck lucky with the group and it was the right fit for me. There are a wide range of talents and disciplines from screenwriters to award winning radio drama producers. It isn’t for everyone, I’ve seen quite a few people arrive with big egos and never return when they aren’t worshipped as much as they’d like.
    There are other groups in the region with very talented people but I’m not sure the dynamic would work as well for me.
    I think you get out what you put in. If you join a group willing to help others, they will be much more willing to help you.

    alanparkinsonauthor

    July 31, 2017 at 8:55 am

    • Thank you for reading and your really useful comments. I’m looking forward to receiving feedback on my work, instead of sending something to a competition and not hearing anything. I pick up on the holes/ typos in my short stories when I re-read something three months later, but it will be good to get some immediate impressions and suggestions for improvement. Spending time with people from a variety of backgrounds who experience the same ups and downs is going to be good.

      Sarah Ann

      July 31, 2017 at 4:09 pm

  3. A writers’ group does have its uses.

    Until early this year, I led a MeetUp Group with about 300 plus members but only about 20 active members. Have since stopped because it was taking up too much of my limited time.

    All the best with your group.

    Eric Alagan

    July 31, 2017 at 10:39 am

    • Thank you. Organising people is a heavy demand on time. Well done for doing it for so long.

      Sarah Ann

      July 31, 2017 at 4:02 pm


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