Three Little Writers

One of my biggest recommendations to other writers is to join a writers’ group and I am lucky enough to be a member of Words Out West. We meet on the last Wednesday of every month at Papcastle Village Hall, read some work in progress or a piece inspired by the previous month’s homework, and provide constructive feedback.

Now as you all know my writing has not exactly been fruitful recently and I will not bore you again with the reasons but alongside this I have also missed the past two meetings of Words Out West. So it was something of a mission that I would not, come what may, miss the meeting at the end of May!

It wasn’t the ideal situation, I had no writing prepared and despite repeatedly promising to myself I would get something, anything written, even in my lunch hour or while waiting in the car just before the meeting was due to start, nothing was forthcoming. I am tempted to blame this on the problem of forced creativity- having a deadline rushing towards me seemed to send the muse running!

There is something a little embarrassing about turning up to a writers’ group with nothing to read but I have done it before. The reason I still insisted on going was that after every writing group session I attend I come away feeling and inspired and it is the best thing to kick my lazy writing arse in gear!

And of course there is an additional reason I was pleased to have attended. At May’s meeting we were three little writers, only three! There are a number of causes for this- holidays mainly- but our little group needs a recruitment drive!

Are you a writer based in the Cockermouth area or no someone who is? Get in touch!

Is a Writing Group Really Useful?

One of the greatest nuggets of writing advice I have gleamed was from writer Sarah Waters. I contacted her after reading Night Watch and she very kindly responded with a lovely email about her research process and asking about my own writing. The last paragraph of her email read:

Writing is a slightly mysterious process, however – different, I think, for every writer. I wish you every success with your work. Have you thought of joining a writing group? I was in one for a while, and it was really useful.

Obviously Sarah Waters seemed to think being in a group was ‘really useful’ but up until this point the idea of joining a writers’ group was, to me, only a vague interest I thought I would perhaps act on at a later date. Now hearing a writer I actually admired, and a successful one at that, say I writers’ group was useful seemed to be the catalyst and it was this that gave me the push to do something about it.

And I’m glad I did, I found a local writing group, Words Out West, then under a different name and have been attending now for a number of years. We meet monthly, read our work, which is often an optional homework from the previous meeting, and give constructive feedback. And it’s not only the feedback that helps, just attending the meeting is often enough to pull me out of a writing ‘wilderness’ I may be going through. Most of the time I leave the meeting buzzing with ideas and inspiration.

Every time I speak to writers who are unsure about joining a group I always encourage them, it gives you vital feedback and you are also getting used to reading out your work to people besides your family. A word of warning however, not all writing groups are the same:

There are essentially three types:

1. The Nice Group

Attendees of the nice group are all very polite and complimentary of each other and their work. You will no doubt get a lot of praise for your work and come away feeling a nice glowing feeling at having a bunch of people smile over you piece. Now that is lovely and it may massage the ego a bit but it is not particularly useful. Hopefully you want to join a group whereby you will be able to improve your work and if everyone tells you it’s superb without giving you constructive feedback it isn’t going to happen.

2. The Dictatorship

So this one is fairly self-explanatory. If you happen to join this type of group it will become fairly obvious pretty quickly who is in charge. It may be that they have had some writing success or taken some course that puts them at what they feel is a more experienced level than the other members or they may just have been the group founder. Now having a leader is not a bad thing, it can help keep things organised and structured, it becomes a dictatorship when that person is overpowering and controlling which is not beneficial to the group or your own writing.

3. The Just Right Group

Finally, there is the group that is just right. In an ideal group everyone has equal opportunity to speak and you will get constructive feedback on your work- perfect. Just socializing with other writers also helps your confidence and feel less ‘alone’ in the craft. Writing can inevitably be a very lonely business!

So when can a writing group be something other than useful? Even with the right writing group there are times when it may not be useful, one of the most obvious is again self-confidence. You may find the writing group you join has a lot of successful writers or intellectual writers- great, you’re bound to get some really valuable feedback. On the other hand you may, like I did once, feel somewhat inadequate. The thing to remember is that everyone has to start somewhere and you will be at a different point on your writing journey to where the other group members are, it does not make you any less of a writer.

Ultimately being part of a writing group can certainly benefit your writing and if you go and  you don’t like it you don’t have to go back.

Happy Writing x

Writing Update

I have rejoined my friends on Talkback and what a relief it has been. My writing has been on a bit of a go slow recently. Christmas certainly did not help and I have just moved house so it’s all put a spanner in the works. Managing to find, no MAKE, time to use Talkback again has gave me the little kickstart I needed. Writing can be a lonely business and I can have a tendancy to be somewhat lazy. We all need a group of familair people for encouragement.

The writing, once again, started it’s slow progression earlier in the week. I plan to be doing a good slot of writing on a daily basis now, in the hope I can finish the first draft of the new project soon.

As I’m writing this my mind is running away with the list of things that I must get done. It is a very long list and I think it might be a plan to put aside five minutes and write it all done. At the moment it consists of three areas:
1. Writing
2. The House (including address changes with all the appropriate people)
3. Work (including the AAT qualification which seems to be butting in on the writing time)

At the moment I am just trying to establish how I am going to possibly plan my time! It did not help that yesterday I spend the evening browsing strange websites on the Internet. Well, when you’re handed a book listing and detailing ‘Weird Websites’ it is somewhat inevitable. It resulting in looking at cute pictures of animals, celebrity corpses, real dolls, 99 rooms and judo dogs, to name just a few. It is only after looking through all these strange and sometimes disturbing places that you realise how much time has been needlessly wated. Not to mention possibly teetering near the download limit…