Writing Groups

6 Feb
My writing desk.

My writing desk.

 

So I’m actually considering joining a writing group.

:O Whaaa…? Yeah.

Well one, I’ll be expected to come in each week with work done–which, coming up on the last leg of this E7 project, can’t be a bad thing–and two, I could meet other (fantasy) writers in my area.  (Sometimes I find I just want to talk about what I’m writing about but can’t because I haven’t shared the whole story with anyone yet and don’t want to spoil anything.  Plus, it would be nice to be able to talk about airships and elementalism and lobotomy with people who are less likely to look at me like I’m from another planet! *cue X-files music*)

Only problem is the last time I was searching for groups where I live they weren’t so much “in my area” as “on the other side of the Phoenix Valley,” with commutes ranging between 45 minutes to an hour+.

-__- (Such is with everything worth visiting here, it seems.)

Anyway, back then I was on meetup.com, so maybe some newer, closer groups have formed since then.  If not, I’ll have to check elsewhere!

Making The Most Of Writing Groups

I know some of you all have been/are involved in writing groups.  How has your experience been with them?  Got any insights on how they generally work or tips to get the most out of them?

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13 Responses to “Writing Groups”

  1. Anthony Lee Collins February 6, 2013 at 8:33 AM #

    I’ve never been in a writing group, but (based on what other people have said) I think they can be very helpful. I’ve avoided them just because I came (back) to writing after a few years of being in bands, so I was trying to get away from all – collaboration – all – of – the – time.

    And I don’t think it would have to be specifically fantasy writers. I’ve got a lot of good feedback on my mystery stories, and none of it came from mystery writers.

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    • The Ink Caster February 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM #

      It wouldn’t have to be specifically sf/fantasy writers for good feedback, true, but I must say it it’s a ton more fun that way. I would go so far as to say “talk[ing] about airships and elementalism and lobotomy with people who are less likely to look at me like I’m from another planet” is one of the most satisfying parts of being in such a group.

      Perhaps other types of writers would be capable of that to some degree, but one of my most cherished writerly memories is of chattering away with a sci-fi guy I met at my writer’s group, talking about “In my world/Well in my world,”, “My military history says/Oh my country’s past grievances are…” and so on. The camaraderie runs strong with birds of such an odd feather. ^_^
      And I would definitely say that it’s great for making friends. We wind up doing more than just writing together (RPG! Video gaming! Even working out and practicing martial arts!) and they now make up some of my tighter friends in the world.

      But back to the Main Event, ie, the sharing and critiquing of writings. My personal experience? Organization and dependability will be limited. Very limited. It’s a group run by writers, after all. The crit given will either too gentle and complimentary (Uselessness!), or myriad and often contradictory. This latter can be very confusing and upsetting–just follow your intuition to hear the answers you need. I have never gone through a meeting in which I did not bring home at least a couple powerful gems of information.

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    • Tiyana February 6, 2013 at 5:46 PM #

      @Anthony: “[…]I was trying to get away from all – collaboration – all – of – the – time.”

      Yeah…I’d like to avoid that, lol. And I wouldn’t mind working with non-sci/fantasy writers, as long as they’re into fiction in general. I imagine you’d get more varied, broader perspectives that way!

      Thanks for the input, Anthony. 🙂

      @Ink: yes, I’m calling you Ink from here on out. 😛

      I would definitely love to be around some fantasy writers, at least. I do think that would be fun. And making friends would be a plus. 😀 (Oh boy, I could definitely see myself role playing and video gaming–watch out!)

      Also, I suppose I am expecting critiques to be all over the place… So long as I get something out of it, I’m good, heh. Mostly, I’m just looking for general opinions on what people like and don’t like about my work, as well as any glaring no-nos or “oh, that’s really cool!” comments. That kind of feedback would be swell.

      Glad to have heard your perspective, Tirzah. Thanks so much for commenting!

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  2. bardconstantine February 6, 2013 at 8:23 PM #

    I’ve been in some online writing groups, and have benefited from some outstanding advice from a few people. I don’t do too much interacting now because being involved in such groups does take time, and mine is so limited as it is. But if you have the time to invest, the experience can be rewarding if you run into the right people. Best of luck!

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  3. Lindsay Kitson February 8, 2013 at 8:22 PM #

    I’ve been part of a few writing groups, some better than others. I spent a lot of years on sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com, and that’s a good place to post chapters, and short stories, but it’s a hard place to get a full novel critiqued. For novels I’ve mostly just farmed it for beta readers – posting a first 3 chapters, with a note that I’m looking to trade novel critiques.

    In person, I’ve had three. Well, four if you count the youth group that started and had two meetings. The longest one I’ve been in is a non-genre one, an the members are at varying levels of commitment – as in, not all of them are really serious about writing. They meet once a month. They also don’t get genre at all, and one of them constantly asked me if I’d ever considered writing non-genre fiction, as he clearly looks down his nose at what I write. The rest, well, they don’t get genre fiction, and didn’t seem to have a really good sense of story structure at all for fiction – half of them were bringing non-fiction, and once my skill level go to a certain point, I stopped receiving anything useful in their critiques.

    Second one – one a local acquaintance started, which I tried really hard to support, because it was genre specific – sci-fi/fantasy. The first few meetings were good – though a couple (cough-one-cough) members tended to argue over critiques, which is BAD. Nothing says “I don’t appreciate your feedback” like telling a critiquer they’re wrong. After the first few meetings, the members who gave the most useful feedback stopped going. I suspect, because this person kept making critiques take twice as long with his arguing. We talked about trying to explain to this guy what he was doing to the group, only we couldn’t figure out how to approach him, since he was the group *organizer*. The last meeting I went to, I got nothing out of the five hours I was there, while this guy treated his buddy that he’d brought in like a precious snowflake and sounded like he was trying to protect him from hearing an honest opinion about the guy’s work, telling me I was wrong about everything I said in my critique. After that, I stopped going.

    The third one is genre specific – but not my genre. It’s a group of mystery writers, who welcomed me in, since they decided that they’d have a very loose definition of mystery, and I have plenty of intrigue in the novel I was working on. These guys are great. They’re a well established group, meeting once a month, and they’re all fairly experienced in critiquing. For all that that first group didn’t get genre fiction, one thing they did school me on was critiquing etiquette, and the mystery group, when I joined them seemed to be very happy to have a new member who wasn’t a precious snowflake, knew how to critique, and how to receive a critique. On their part, they seem to *get* genre fiction in a way that that first group didn’t. Mystery is still genre fiction – it’s not my genre, technically, but it’s still genre, and thus they don’t turn their noses up at it. Their feedback is useful, and it’s a very functional group. I ended up fitting in with them very easily.

    In conclusion, I’d say check out a few and see which one’s best for you. A good group can be really awesome, but a dysfunctional group can be a great frustration. But a good beta reader can be gold – when you find one, treat them special, and return the favour as best you can.

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    • Tiyana February 10, 2013 at 11:07 PM #

      Oh boy! You’ve had a bit of a mixed bag, huh?

      So far I’m not having luck finding local groups, actually… I’ll do a few more searches. I guess if I don’t see anything I’ll stick to my original plan of using just the volunteer beta readers I’ve met through blogging, heh. But I would love to find one as good as your mystery group sounds!

      Thanks for sharing, Lindsay. 😀

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  4. Jay Noel February 13, 2013 at 7:41 AM #

    I’ve had mixed results from joining writing groups. The best one had to be my local NaNoWriMo group. The others were filled with crazy people who trashed everything in order to inflate their egos.

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    • Tiyana February 14, 2013 at 8:10 PM #

      Oh, boy. I hope I don’t across any crazy people. o.O

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  5. Tyhitia February 13, 2013 at 6:22 PM #

    Tiyana,

    I’ve been in two different writing groups and had different experiences with both. My Nano group was more fun, like Jay’s, but it had nothing to do with Nano specifically, it was because there were folks who wrote some of the same things I did and they were just more fun.

    The group closest to my home was more dull. There were some nice folks in it, but only one or two wrote genre fiction like I do. Plus, I have so many friends who write, I decided to only use them as betas, so I don’t do writing groups anymore.

    Just find a group that you’re comfortable with and find out what they want, i.e., do you edit when you meet, or do they expect you to take stories home, etc.

    Feel free to e-mail me! 🙂

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    • Tiyana February 14, 2013 at 8:18 PM #

      That must be nice, to having friends you already know who write. I met a couple of guys who are writers through a mutual friend (one’s a creative writing major–ha!), though I’m not sure they’d be interested in starting a writing group…

      My concern with joining a local group would be that we just. Don’t. Click. Or they all turn out to be like 20+ years older than I am… (Such is the case with my current search results, heh.)

      *sighs* I just might stick with my volunteer beta readers and maybe an online group. (So much for being more social! LoL) Idk, we’ll see.

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      • Anthony Lee Collins February 15, 2013 at 6:13 AM #

        And what’s wrong with writers 20+ years older than you are, hmm?

        ::tries to look fierce but then has to sit down and rest for a bit::

        🙂

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        • Tiyana February 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM #

          LoL

          I’d just like to be around a couple of people, at least, closer to my age, is all. 😉

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