Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding Your Inspiration - Start a Writing Group

My family likes to speculate on what goes on at meetings of my writing group. They joke that we sit silently together and write. “Ready…set…write!” is the catchphrase that greets me once a month on a Saturday as I set out across the city to my friend’s house.

Hold on a second…friend? You thought we were talking about a writing group, right? Fellow writers, colleagues, serious professionals (or, in our case, amateurs) in the craft. Where do friends come into it?

Well, three years ago, these three women I meet up with every month were strangers. None of us knew each in the slightest when we first met up at a week-long summer course on creative writing. We were all different, with varied histories, demographics, and careers (one doctor, one editor, and two lawyers – one practicing and one retired) but we were all interested in writing a novel.

The course provided us with the chance to meet, to click and to exchange email addresses. At first, almost half of our small writing class wanted to meet in a group setting. Many even came out to the first meeting at a local restaurant to share our work, but it was largely geography that left us with the four city-based women who first started our group. We were fortunate that it ended up that way. I can honestly say that the ladies I meet with every month are those whose writing first impressed me years ago in our class. And I continue to be impressed with their writing and dedication every month.

I work hard every month to make the deadline to submit my work so that these ladies can read and critique it. We’re not brutal with each other but we do criticize. As we’ve gotten to be friends, we have started to know how good our work is from the lack of reaction. When copious praise is replaced by reticence, we know that it’s back to the editing chopping block.

A member has since come and gone in our little group but the group continues. We all write, urge each other to write, celebrate each others’ successes and commiserate over rejections. Since joining, I have published two short stories but none of us have reached our ultimate goal: publishing a book-length work of fiction.

Still, after every meeting, I leave inspired to do more. To write more. To submit my work for publication. To keep going.

That’s the real benefit of a writing group. Aside from having a community of people with your same interest, it’s great to have a safe setting from which you can draw encouragement and inspiration.

So, come on, reach out and connect with your fellow writers. Take a course. Attend a meeting of the local writer’s guild. Get online to find your group (meeting in public at first until you’re comfortable with a more private venue). Just get out there!

Now, repeat after me. Ready…set…write!

Photo courtesy of graur codrin at

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