Most writers know that writing can be a lonely profession, spending hours within our own minds sifting through thought processes regarding plot, sentence structure, editing, or any other myriad of writing steps. We find ourselves sitting at the computer (sometimes in our PJ's) or at a coffee shop with our laptop, or any quiet place we can find, seldom engaging with others because such an interruption often results in a disconcerting need for us to restart, reboot, or rewind our brains. So why attend a writer's group and purposely engage with others?
Quite frankly, I asked myself that very question, telling myself that the time could be better spent writing, since I didn't feel there was sufficient time in my day for it in the first place. I had plenty of excuses. If I was honest with myself, one of the top excuses was probably the fact that sharing my writing with other writers made me feel so vulnerable. Those precious words came from my thoughts, so if they didn't like those carefully chosen words, how did that reflect on me? Ridiculous logic I know, but how many of you have used similar logic?
I have searched out various writer's groups in my community, then landed on one that has been developed through our local library. It is still fairly new, but has already garnered a number of brave followers and has workshops lined up to supplement its efforts.
My first meeting surprised me. I found a diverse group of individuals from the community, who were at various stages in their writing journeys, looking for feedback from others who understood and sympathized with this difficult process. Individuals could sign up to read an excerpt of their writing, followed by initial positive responses, then questions that each author chose to ask of his/her peers. By pointing out the positives, I learned qualities to include in my own writing.
Perhaps the most important thing I gleamed from this encounter, was the unique voice of each writer. How encouraging to discover that it is actually important to find your own voice, and detrimental to try to mimic someone else's. Another lesson learned; writers need to engage with other writers; we need to get out of our heads from time to time, and if it causes us discomfort or anxiety, then at least we've gained new insight into writing about those emotions.
I highly recommend searching out a writers group near you for support, knowledge, and feedback. My special thanks to the Allen County Public Library and the Fort Wayne Writers Guild for developing these groups within my community.
As I said before when beginning this writing journey with other writers, "Ah, let me grab my backpack and join you." - M.A. Koontz