Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Get Thee to a Writers' Group

Ever since my university days in creative writing, I've enjoyed interacting with other writers. Critiquing each other's work. Sharing our successes and frustrations. Discussing writing in ways that make most people's eyes glaze over. Ah, the good old days!

I recently connected with a local writer who wanted to start a new writers' group. After years of strictly online interactions, I was instantly excited by getting back to face-to-face meetings with other writers. Being part of a group might be just what I need to kick-start my creative writing process.

While it's never been easy to submit my work to the critiques of others, I've learned to value their opinions and understand that -- with a few notable exceptions -- they've been given in the spirit of improving and strengthening my work. And they’ve made me meet deadlines for completing my stories.

Some critiques focus on things like spelling, grammar and various formatting issues. Others address more "big picture" things like plot and character development. Depending on the genre and the length of the work, you can also expect feedback on symbolism, believability, theme, subplots, timelines, transitions, passive writing and a whole host of story elements. (Whether you're giving or receiving feedback, remember that a proper critique addresses the work, not the author.)

If you’re not part a writers’ group in your area, consider starting one. Post a notice with your local writers’ association or library or on a site like Kijiji (where I made my connection). Share the hosting chores with other members. Be honest and fair with your feedback.

And be prepared to write like you've never written before.

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