6 Reasons You Need to Join a Writers' Group

Writers' block is a real thing. So is imposter syndrome, self-doubt, second-guessing and uncertainty. A lot of other things can hinder you from getting any actual writing done as well.

You can read books, attend webinars, download apps, head off to yoga and meditation retreats, and a whole list of other options that may or may not provide inspiration and set you on the path to productivity. Take a moment and think about what all these options have in common: other people. The best way to for writers to interact with other people who can empathize and the best people for empathy are other writers.

They've all been where you are. They've all felt the nagging doubt and have run into the infuriating brick walls of uncertainty. Because they've been where you are, pep talks from your fellow writers are spot on. Here are a few of the ways that joining a writers’ group can inspire and guide you on your literary journey.

Motivation

Most writers' groups encourage members to bring pieces to read aloud to the group, and the group then offers constructive criticism and support. Knowing that you have to present your work to a group of your peers is a great motivator. A short story that may have taken you three months of dawdling and daydreaming can take only a week to complete when you know your fellow writers will be expecting it.

Feedback From Your Peers

You can ask your mom to critique your writing. You can ask your spouse to critique your writing. You can even ask your devoted best friend to critique your writing. Chances are, though, that neither of these people has the professional experience, education, or any kind of background that enables them to give you the feedback you really need. They're also slightly biased (especially your mom!) and therefore might not feel comfortable telling you the bold truths that need to be told. On the other hand, your writers' group posse should have no problem firing off the professional criticism you need! A good group, with anywhere from 5 to 50 members, will easily include at least one individual who has been in your exact shoes and knows just what to say. Rely on your peers, not your parents!

Inspiration

On that same note, sometimes offering criticism for other writers can create lightbulb moments for yourself and help you to better understand changes that need to be made in your own work. While one member is offering ideas to another member about how to include details of 18th-century dress and costume into their screenplay, you have ample opportunity to jot those points down and use them to improve your own period piece later. Feedback for specific writers doesn’t have to be specifically for them after all.

Learn How to Give Constructive Criticism

And still on the topic of criticism… your writers’ group is the perfect place for you to learn how to give proper criticism. In today’s post-modern (post-post-modern?) world where we’re all very careful not to offend or step on toes, understanding that sometimes people WANT you to point out their flaws can be off-putting, sometimes even downright shocking. A good writers’ group, though, will have easy to follow, strict guidelines in place on how, when, and why to give constructive feedback to your peers. You’ll feel much more comfortable pointing out someone else’s tendency to switch back and forth between tenses throughout their manuscript once you realize that you can say it in a gentle way and that they really do want and need to hear it.

Network, Network, Network

A writers' group is also a fantastic place to network. Yes, it is a cliche that all writers are introverted hermits who only see the sun when they HAVE to physically meet with their editors. But sometimes that's not so far from the truth. The writer's life can indeed be a lonely, confusing one, but meeting other writers, editors, publicists, journalists, advertisers, professors, and even crossword puzzle creators can be both exciting and helpful. As with other industries, picking the brain of someone in your field can prove invaluable. A fellow short story writer can tell you the best publishers to pitch your new collection to. A new publisher friend might be able to offer advice on the benefits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing for your next book. That journalist girl you met might offer information about interesting job opportunities within the field. You never know.

Staying Informed

Information is power. A writers' group is a fantastic way to stay informed about the literary goings-on in your community. Many such groups even have monthly newsletters that contain listings for book release parties, writing contests, writers-in-residence opportunities, literary workshops, and many other related events and opportunities. Writers' groups are often associated with writers' associations or guilds as well, organizations which can offer a whole new level of community.

What are you waiting for? Open up another tab in your browser and search for a writers’ group in your area.

Related Articles