The importance of a writers’ group
Ken is one of my newest readers. Yesterday he left the following comments:
One of the benefits in being part of a group of writers is to see your story in action. Many people make the mistake of reading their own work. This is kind of protecting it. One day it will have to grow up and leave home. The best approach is for someone else to read the story to the group and have them comment on it. The writer must stay right back and observe the reactions. That way you can see when people wrinkle their brows or laugh or look thoughtful. You also hear the reader stumble or read smoothly.
Sometimes we keep our stories too close to us, while they are growing up. But we write our stories to share with others. People in performance arts get direct responses from their audience. Writers can miss out on this step unless they organise to put themselves in that position.
Well said Ken.
Too often – most of the time actually – writers get far too close to their ‘babies’ to see the faults, errors and structural problems that are obvious to other readers.
This is probably THE most important lesson I have learned doing my Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide, especially under the guidance of Rosanne Hawke.
- At first I was threatened by having to share my writing in a public forum like a workshop.
- Then I felt challenged by what others were writing in response to the set activities. This lifted my own writing to a new level.
- Now I’m at the stage of actively seeking feedback from other writers and readers. Their reactions, perceptions and comments can only make me a better writer.
Isn’t that what we all strive for?
And a spin-off bonus is that our writing is improved making it more likely to be accepted for publication.
Consider being a part of a writers’ group. In Australia there are many such groups in every capital city (contact your state writers’ centre) and in many large regional centres. Even some of our smaller country towns have writers’ groups. I’m sure this is true of most other countries too.
And if you can’t find a group near where you live, start one. Even meeting regularly with just one or two like minded writers can be beneficial.