March 02, 2015

Starting a Writing Group

The story of my writing group:

A little less than a year ago a work colleague found out about my writing and asked the simple question: "Have you tried National Novel Writing Month yet?"
"Well no, not yet," I replied. And he went on to tell me that it was one of the best things he'd ever done was try it out and meet with a local writing group in Monterey, CA. He got SO much done, he said, more than he ever had before, "and it felt really good to have that support and camaraderie you know?" Hm, I thought, and told him I would think about it, he made it sound so great.

I thought about giving it a try and resolved to do so. Currently I write for this blog as well as a Persian language learning site, on top of occasional stories, songs, and poetry, but I haven't put work into a novel in years, and quite frankly I was getting tired of putting it off.

At this point November is coming up and I'm getting a little nervous, 1666 words a day? Every day? We'll see how this goes, I'm thinking to myself. Then my friend Murphy messages me seemingly out of the blue, says National Novel Writing Month is coming up and suggests a different plan of averaging 1500-3000 words a week for 4 months. I think to myself: that sounds much more realistic to accomplish. When he adds his idea of starting a writing group from a couple of our hometown friends we know that write, I'm immediately sold.

So we start a writing group consisting of four people and set out to write a novel, two of us from complex ideas and two of us from our short story ideas with no clear structure in sight. Two fantasy, one mystery, and myself a science fiction based in a pioneering, American-west-feeling Mars that is just finishing terraforming. The results are extremely encouraging. My positive points on start your very own writing group:

Accountability

This positive point is also the biggest negative one. We tend to have a Saturday night turn in, which lets us review on Sunday. Knowing others are expecting you to turn in at least SOMEthing that you did can be a good boost to motivation. Unless you're dedicated to procrastination as I sometimes am. Either way...someone else besides yourself will know you didn't do much, and your friends may yel- I mean, encourage you. And that's a step in the right direction.

Encouragement

Having people read and comment on your work is probably the most encouraging thing about this type of endeavor, having writers you trust and/or admire helps a lot too. Being in the pit with fellow writers and reading their work can help build a sense of comraderie, and that you're actually moving toward a goal together and witnessing each other's progress means something

Feedback and Much Needed Criticism

You used five titles to describe your flying, motorbike on Mars and it made sense in your mind because you wanted to give a feeling of both modern technology and American west antiquity. But it didn't work. It's overdone and your friends tell you.

^This is a perfect example of the value of having others there to read your work and tell you what they think. It can be very encouraging sometimes, and sometimes it's a touch embarrassing. But it's hard to argue that the extra pair of eyes isn't helpful. In my opinion, they should be as harsh and to the point as possible with a sense of what they were feeling and thinking when they read it, but to each his own.

You can sign up with your own account at figment here. Create a group, invite your friends.

Want on alternative to online? Try in-person meetups and clubs.

Another nice and helpful alternative to your own, personal, online group though is a local literary meetup. Meetup.com is a great place to find what you need and connect you with local writers, talent, inspiration, and support. From literary groups, to writing clubs, to writers eating together clubs, there's something for everyone everywhere, and it's a good opportunity to be encouraged, critiqued, and inspired by fellow writers that I highly recommend. If nothing else while I'm here in DC I plan on going out with the "Writers Eating DC" meetup to catch a bite, get out, and keep my head engaged about writing.


2 comments:

Brandy Lehmann said...

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aliya seen said...

writing a bio on yourself is a big challenge to have. You have to write so many things that need to write with perfections.

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