Why join a writing group? Because writers understand each other. In order to develop as a writer and not become too much of an introvert, a person needs to find a writers group populated by like-minded fellow strugglers.
I belong to three: the one I founded that meets on Zoom and is an affiliate of OWFI (Invite to Write), one for romance writers (Oklahoma Romance Writers Guild), and one for mystery writers (a chapter of Sisters in Crime). All three have Zoom options for attending, so not being close enough to meet in person, I can attend meeting. Options exist, if a person really wants to be in a group and improve his/her writing skills and network with other writers.
For people serious about their writing dreams, a writers’ group can help fulfill those dreams in several ways. Now, let’s get personal and discover a few reasons how writing groups can help.
First, family and friends may read your manuscripts and pat you on the back, but unless they’re writers, they’re not likely to comprehend actually what you’re going through or qualify as advisers. You want someone who’s been where you are and is willing to be honest.
Second, most writing groups include mini-workshops to help develop and improve writing skills. Some offer publishing opportunities for those who have developed those skills.
Finally, whatever your challenge or questions, someone in your writers group has experienced the same thing and gained insight they’re happy to share.
We now understand that a writing group could be a help, maybe even a necessity, but how do we find a writing group, whether online or one that meets in person?
Finding an online writers group is as easy as searching for your interest. Google or announce in social media your desire to interact with other writers in your genre or for general writing. Some people write multiple genres or don’t know yet what they want to write.
True, in-person groups offer more dynamic interaction, but you may find online groups easier to have meetings you can attend. Asking others can give you information about existing groups, but below is a sample of ideas to help you search.
For in-person writers groups, check:
For online writers groups, check:
Do realize that often writers’ groups have dues, and some may be more expensive than others. If funds are as tight at your house as they are at mine, the amount of the dues may limit which group or groups you may be able to join.
When I moved to an area where I couldn’t find a writers’ group, I started one. Due to a small population and few who were interested in writing, it became a virtual meeting. Zoom became my friend.
You’re not alone. And you may be surprised at how many options you find.
Remember that joining a critique group or a writing groups that has critique options means inviting other writers to respond to your work. And, that can hurt. The saying that writers need a thick skin is very apt, and to be able to use suggestions and edits, we must fight giving ourselves a pity party when people are trying to help. Along this line is a word about critiquing other writers’ works – be kind but honest.
However, beware of groups that are all about criticism. Even worse can be groups who only praise each other’s work. The result of either is no one is getting better or getting published.
Writers have often asked me, “Can you tell me what makes good writing? I mean in a few words, not a class.” Hmm … that is definitely asking too much, especially since I studied writing for many years, and I’m still learning.
However, the first point is 8 Cs of Good Writing, things that are necessary for good writing: clarity, conciseness, concreteness, correctness, coherency, completeness, courtesy, and characterization.
Next, know and use correct grammar in the narrative of the story or in paragraphs. If you don’t have strong grammar foundation, find a good grammar book or teacher. Readers must be able to understand the message and meaning of what is written.
I know of no easy way to learn how to write well, of no shortcut. One thing that isn’t often realized, though, is reading: reading well-written books, reading poorly-written books, reading books about writing, reading books in your preferred genre, and reading books in other genres than what you like. Learn from good writing and from bad writing. Don’t take for granted “experts” know it all. Don’t be afraid to try their ideas, but don’t be afraid to discard what doesn’t work for you – expect for the fundamental “musts” of writing (plot, characters, setting, good grammar in the narrative, etc.).
Finally, find a good writing group to join and grow thick skin. If you want your writing to improve, you need advisors and readers who are honest, not ones who only want to make you feel good.
I cover many tips and advice about writing, and this article does not substitute for more in-depth workshops and lessons. I only shared a general overview of writing, just a starting point.