Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Another Way to Use Your Writing Group

Most of us know how useful a writers group can be for receiving feedback on your works in progress. My group has been invaluable, improving not only the quality of my work but my skills as a writer as well.

We don't limit ourselves to critique sessions. We email each other, share work online, and have our very own top-secret Facebook page. Occasionally, two or three members of the group will meet at a local cafe to write for a while. The women in the group have even had overnight writing retreats. We are there for each other, to trade advice and support each other how ever we can, even when we're not sitting around a table.

Yesterday, we tried something a little different.

Some of us have been struggling to write recently, with all the usual summer distractions or heavy workloads. So we decided to meet for an afternoon of writing. We didn't set any ground rules except one: meet in a neutral place so nobody had the distractions of home.

We considered several locations, from work conference rooms to libraries, and finally settled on the church near one member's home. It was a good location, quiet and comfortable.

A couple of people couldn't make it, due to work schedules or World Cup parties. I often miss daytime get-togethers because of work, but we intentionally scheduled it during my vacation.

I can't speak for the others who were there, but it was a productive afternoon for me. I'm revising a difficult part of my WIP, and it has been easy to find excuses to avoid the work. But sitting in a nearly empty church building from about 1:30 to about 5:00 meant that I could either work or sit there and do nothing. Sure, some of that time was spent socializing, but for most of it, we worked. Once in a while we'd ask each other for advice on a difficult passage or commiserate when struggling with a name or a scene. Mostly, we supported each other and kept each other on task.

And, of course, we enjoyed treats. That goes without saying.

So, if you're part of a group, or even if you just know some writers, I can recommend taking an afternoon to write together. Ultimately, writing is still mostly an individual process, but sometimes working by yourselves together can provide a great boost and ensure that you don't spend another day mastering your avoidance skills.

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