Tag Archives: Writing circle

G is for (Writer’s) Group


by Lillian Csernica on April 8, 2013

G is for (Writers’) Group

If you’re thinking of joining a writer‘s group, ask yourself these questions:

Is this group designed for the type of writing I want to do? Is the critique format based on a professional model (i.e. the Clarion method) or is everybody there to just cheer each other on?

Is the level of experience among the writers in the group close enough to mine for us to help each other, yet they’re far enough ahead of me so that I’ll be learning as I go?

Is this group committed to serious effort at production and improvement, or is it really just a social occasion? Worse, do any of the members try to turn every meeting into some kind of group therapy session?

Allow me to illustrate the different kinds of group dynamics you might encounter by describing three writer’s groups I’ve experienced:

Group #1: Ten members, some with novel sales, some with short story sales, some at the small press level. This was a good group for me. We were all working toward greater professional achievement, we used the Clarion method, and I learned a lot from the other writers. We had a few personality conflicts, but those didn’t become serious obstacles to the critique process.

Group #2: Just four of us, women writers who’d met through each other at SF conventions. We all have at least two types of writing in common, so we all bring something useful to each critique. We meet for the weekend when our schedules permit, talk shop, work on our stories, eat too much and stay up too late and enjoy the fact that we’ve become best friends. Thanks to each other’s help, we continue to make sales.

Group #3: Ten members, the emphasis on nonfiction and writing memoirs. What am I, the writer of fantasy and historical fiction, doing in this group? That’s a good question and a long story. I’m the youngest by at least ten years, but I have the most professional sales. While I defer to my elders, they defer to me about formal writing technique. In recent months the woman who organized this group has become very controlling and dictatorial. I really enjoy the people in this group, but my time could be better spent working at home. I now have to decide if the convenience and pleasure of meeting these people once a month is worth putting up with the control freak behavior of our Fearless Leader.

A writer’s group represents a serious investment of time and effort. Activate your social network for references, recommendations, and possible warnings. You want to find the group that will provide the best return on your investment according to your writing goals.

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