Ever since I started my creative writing degree in 2008 I have been a part of two writers’ groups at the university where I studied. One was primarily a prose group. Each meeting the participants are given a writing challenge. The latest challenge was to finish a 1000 word short story with the last few words of a classic novel. The resulting stories were amazing in both the variety and the quality.
During the last four years I have also been a part of a poetry critiquing group. Over the last two years I have helped to organise this group. We also set writing challenges for the participants. It might be a set theme or a set form (eg sonnets) and sometimes both. The discussions are also very stimulating.
On Saturday just gone I joined yet another writers’ group. This group meets only a few times a year, usually in someone’s home. The group has a discussion on a set topic and then there is a sharing of current projects before breaking for a shared lunch – and more informal discussions. This group has a special focus, as it’s title implies: it is a Christian Professional Writers’ Association. All of the participants are either professional writers – or aspiring to be. Everyone in the group has a publishing record, and is striving to have more published. Our focus discussion this time followed on from the last meeting: “What is Christian fiction?”
I find that attendance at such meetings to be very stimulating, always generating new ideas, new writing avenues, networking (I found out about a potential opening at a publisher for my novel), encouragement and just plain good fun. If critiquing of one’s writing is also part of the activities, this is a bonus. Having others reading and commenting on your work is invaluable in the process of becoming a better writer – and more likely to get published.
I’d strongly encourage you to seek out a local group for writers and try it out.