For the past year I have selfishly guarded every other Thursday from unwelcome real-life intrusions. I go for a run, read a short story or two, sometimes do some freelance editing. And then I print the latest draft from a fellow writer and prepare for my writing group.
I found them on MeetUp.com, a fantastic resource for writers and artists looking for like-minded people. If you’re like me, none of your friends are fiction writers, and I’m personally too nervous to give my rough drafts to my friends and family, mostly because I still want to talk to them after they have read said rough draft.
A typical day goes like this: I read the draft (sometimes two or three, depending on how many writers have submitted that day), mark it up, put on my walking shoes and head over to the coffee shop down the block. We eat and chat for thirty minutes or so, waiting for everyone to show up, and then at around 1:15, we dig in.
There are 8 of us, and we’ve come to know our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes through the sharing and giving of work and advice. Usually one of us will bring a writing resource—journal magazine ideas, clips of poetry, photocopies of short stories, even books if we come across an item that would be useful to another.
We hold no punches. We are ruthless, digging out the inconsistencies and head-hopping and imagery that is there but needs to be brought out. Some of us have taken writing classes, some of us haven’t. Some of us are published, some of us aren’t. I’m particularly fond of my group because they don’t think it’s weird that I write literary fiction. We have writers who specialize in YA, erotica, historical fiction, contemporary short stories, and memoir. What brings us together is our shared interest in the written word.
When I leave the group, usually between 3 and 4, I’m excited, exhausted, inspired, and motivated. And to think that I almost didn’t go to my first meeting. I signed up on a Wednesday before a meeting. I tried to talk myself into waiting two weeks, to decide if I really wanted to read and share my writing with a group of strangers. I’m so glad I went. A year later, and we are going strong, selective on inviting new people to the group, enthusiastic when we do meet new people.
If you have been procrastinating joining a writing group, or aren’t sure where to meet fellow writers, I encourage you to search for like-minded souls. I know I’ve written and submitted more in the past year than I would have if I was still flying solo.
If you have a writing group, how did you meet them? What is the format? And what do you like most about them?