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12 Benefits of Joining a Writing Group

Photo of a deckchair on a beach

No man is an island…

My previous experience with my first novel showed me the importance and benefits of getting early critiques of my second novel. So last year I joined a writing group.

Last time, the first eyeballs on my manuscript (other than my own) were those of a structural editor. Needless to say, the amount of red pen required made it look like she’d bled all over it. Poor thing. This time round, with my current work-in-progress, I have found that joining a writing group has been a more helpful, supportive and just plain fun way to get early input.

The group meets once a month, face-to-face. It is designed primarily for writers working on a novel. We begin with a round-up of everyone’s progress on their current project, discuss any challenges and offer suggestions, followed by two selected writers reading their work aloud for a group critique. I have read out different sections of my work-in-progress on several occasions. Not every comment I received was a glowing appraisal but each one offered some useful take-away to help me refine my writing.

Writing Benefits of the Group
  1. Provides a discipline and a deadline to produce regular work
  2. Prompts me to hone the work I am reading aloud so it’s the best it can be
  3. Allows others to critically engage with my story and characters early on
  4. Provides honest and insightful feedback
  5. Hones my own ability to give and receive constructive criticism
  6. Gives encouragement and support to improve my work
  7. Points out glaring errors (e.g. chronology; consistency; continuity)
  8. Inspires me to keep writing
Social Benefits of the Group
  1. Gets me out of my lonely writer’s garret
  2. Encourages me to engage with other writers in person: to laugh; to celebrate; to commiserate; to be inspired by real people (not ones I’ve made up!)
  3. Lets me join with a group of people who understand what it is to be a writer
  4. Reminds me I am human.

I am very lucky to be part of such a writing group. Thank you, fellow scribes. You know who you are.

‘No man is an island…’ from the poem by John Donne
photograph © Susan Hughes

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