On Writing Well: Writing Groups

Writing can often feel like an isolated occupation, especially when you want feedback on your writing, or are working on a longer piece that takes a great deal of time. Many writers work from home, and miss the companionship and collaboration that other occupations provide.

Joining or creating a writing group may alleviate the sense of feeling marginalized, but sometimes writing groups can be a mixed blessing. That said, if you choose wisely, a good group can give you the sense of community, feedback and support that every writer craves.

Pros:

Creating a sense of community: Writing is a lonely hobby. Unlike art, or music, where the work is immediately accessible by others, writing is secretive, taking place in isolation. To me, one of the nicest things about writer’s groups is taking what is otherwise a lonely occupation and adding a social context where you can share your work with like-minded writers who will add valuable feedback. Which takes me to…

Feedback: As a writer, it’s very important to have constructive criticism of your writing. In the best writing groups, your writing mates will pinpoint the exact places in which your writing can be improved, and give you specific ways to improve your style, content and grammar. If you have the right writing group, you will be able to also get insight into what makes your individual writing shine. This is very helpful indeed, for often when we write, we lose the necessary distance required to see the strengths and weaknesses of our own writing. A writing group will give you that.

Cons:

Bullying: Ever watched Mean Girls? Remember how awfully mean the popular Plastics were to everyone else? Writing groups can be that way too. Writing is awfully personal – everyone has their opinions on what makes great writing, and often in a bad writing group, one person’s objective opinion of good writing gets pushed down everyone else’s throat, leading to hurt feels, despair and writing block.

Feedback too early in the process: Writing is a multi-layered process. For many writers, the first draft is just a placeholder, an outline, so to speak, to get things like structure, story arc, etc. worked out. Yet, this is a time consuming process and writers often make the mistake of sharing this work because they really want someone to recognize how hard they have worked, and validate their efforts. A well-meaning critic though can tear this apart, trying to give feedback on style and word-choice and development. This misunderstanding also leads to great difficulties for all parties.

11 thoughts on “On Writing Well: Writing Groups

  1. Good article – which remids me I’ve been looking for a good writing group! 🙂 I remember being a member of one on Yahoo that was awesome. Not only did it get me to write something everyday without fail but the people involved were wonderful with criticism and usually only focused on the good. Feedback = good. Mean girl syndrome = judgemental and egotistical. 🙂 Thanks Pia!

  2. Good insights. Maybe I isolate to get away from others, but then I am sad that nobody reads my stuff. I am my own worst enemy.

  3. Yes, joining a Writer’s Group has been very helpful for me. We meet once a month to share, inspire and learn together. I would recommend it to every writer.

  4. Not sure why you say art or music is instantly accessible. Art and music are often performed in secret, just like writing. Ironically, here you are writing where we can read it! Any of it is public or private as we decide. In my performing I cherish criticism but rarely receive any. Good luck to you in getting it! LOL but seriously….

  5. Writing Groups help a writer very much especially in the initial phase. But if you cannot find a group, join HubPages is a wonderful community of writers. And there are least chances of bullying like Mean Girls.

  6. I might find a local writing group here in my area. I used to belong to one and we did everything over the internet, we never met together. It was frustrating though. I would spend hours composing an honest but kind critique only to receive a stingy “well written” or “beautiful” in return. A face to face might work better for me. Now to find a group and the time. sigh

  7. Gail and her splendid doll House
    Just a little before noon and lunch Gail was in the living room. She was playing with or another words setting up her doll house. Gail was the second child of three.
    The other two were off at college. Glen and Eric were around there 20s and going to college.
    Gail liked to be able to fool around today was a day to be inside. Gail would play outdoors when she could, but today was raining so Gail’s mother had brought down the dollhouse she had from when she was a girl.
    “Mother, how did you like playing with the doll house when you were youn?
    “It was so much fun, dear.” Gail was 9 years old and liked the doll house. She had one special doll, it was small enough to go in the doll house. The house was small but not too small.
    “Here we go dolly make lunch at the kitchen.” said Gail. Gail stood up at the counter pretending to make lunch.
    The doll house was always there for Gail to play with. As Gail had the doll make sandwhiches the, sandwhich being a paper sandwich she put one of the tow cups on it so while she pretended to make another one it didn’t blow away.
    Gail enjoyed playing with the doll house she spent some of the free time she’d have playing it.

    this is a Chldren’s story. I write stories for childeren and have never been Published yet at least.

  8. Being part of a Writing group is very important for a writer, where you can get feed back for your writing in the form of criticism and encouragement. In addition, you can share ideas also with the other writers. I belong to a local writing group (9 member team) where we meet usually once a month. After a potluck lunch, we will have our meeting and discuss about our writing. It is fun and beneficial to all.

  9. All comments were helpful. I am comfortable being alone and writing. There is a writing club, here, where I live. I haven’t attended yet. I have always wanted to write an autobiography. but I have started several times and those computers have crashed and i didn’t know enough to save my work (duh) back then, so it was very discouraging. Computers don’t seem to like me. I have had lots of problems with them and many dead computers in the last 20 years. I have a huge sense of humor, but come on! This is my first writing on this site, so I hope to get going as disability doesn’t pay enough for a person to eat.

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