Writer’s Groups – To Join Or Not To Join?

TypewriterFontWriterLast week I sat down at my computer and planned on writing at least two more posts, but some how, each time I looked at the screen, I lost the spark to write.  The first thing I had planned on discussing was an article I read about why writer’s groups are useless and should be avoided, and the second was the mixed emotions I felt after attending a writer’s social.  I had something planned each day last week, all part of that plan to get “out there” and advance my career, but with each passing day, I felt less and less inspired.  I’m not sure exactly why, but it all culminated on Friday night after the mixer (which ironically circles back around to the article).

First up, the article from ScriptMag and it’s quick synopsis: “quit groups”.  At first I was a little annoyed with this writer’s take on writer’s groups, but by Friday I had partially changed my stance.  As I recently wrote, I like my Monday night group.  2 hours of silence.  It’s really nice and useful for its productivity.  I need (nay, crave) more of these quiet moments.  We may share our work, but the feedback we do offer is that of encouragement and support for just having the courage to write if nothing more.  It’s a different premise from most groups, I guess.  We have published authors and people who are paid for their work, professionals, so there are people in attendance who can offer real world advice.  I recently joined some groups as part of my New Year’s resolutions for a couple of reasons.  I (let’s say “foolishly”) believed they would offer networking opportunities, which they have, but maybe not exactly to the extent I had hoped, but more importantly, as a writer, an opportunity to get out of the house.  Yes, I’m going to say it again – writing is a lonely vocation.  As I do not work outside, how else am I to meet anyone?  Let alone industry people.

So this leads to topic number two.  I attended a writer’s mixer/social/networking opportunity that was not exactly what I thought it would be.  Over 80 people were scheduled to be attending, so I had high hopes of meeting someone who might offer some sound advice or be a potential writing buddy.  The venue was a good space, open for mingling, but the music was too loud, so I had nearly lost my voice by the end, and it was too darkly lit, as if we were out for a night of clubbing.  There was this slightly raised area, where three people fell down the stairs because they couldn’t see.  I guess the part that left me wanting was the fact that everyone I spoke with was in the same boat, maybe even in another boat, further back.  I had a larger portfolio of work, most people had only written one thing.  When I discussed the necessity of multiple ideas, I got dazed look responses.  And I got hit on a little.  Really not why I was there.  On a positive note, I did meet some very nice people.  Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but other than being proud of myself for facing such a crowd on my own, I left thinking I had just wasted my time.  Working writers most likely would not have the time to attend such an event, nor would they have the need to.

On Saturday, I listened in on a teleconference about rewriting and discovered I still have quite a bit of work ahead of me on the script I thought was nearly ready.  This knowledge compounded with the “time-wasted” recent events brought everything back to the article I had read.  Maybe joining all those groups is not the best use of my time.  So what if I’m a loner?!  I have friends, none of whom live within a reasonable distance, but who are always just a phone call away.  I have my sister and my furkids for companionship, and who could ask for more than that?  What I learned this week was that as good as my intentions were (although a great opportunity for me to shed any timidity), a lesson of trial and error, did nothing to advance my career.  I wasted a lot of time getting ready and driving to events, I barely wrote anything, and I didn’t meet anyone on “the inside”.

I don’t regret the last week, because I wouldn’t have learned so early on the lesson that not all opportunities are the right ones.  I made the goals, I’m doing my best to keep them, but the point is to learn what you can and move forward.  The goals are meant to be evaluated and rewritten.  My rewritten goal – be more discriminating in regards to the events I attend.   I’m torn at the moment of attending another mixer, part of a series that I’ve never gone to before, or going to my group and being productive.  Yea, when I write it out like that, it’s clear which is the better of the two options.

I hope you’ve been more productive than I have!  Here’s to the start of a better week!  Best of luck!

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4 thoughts on “Writer’s Groups – To Join Or Not To Join?

  1. What about joining a non-writing group? Maybe you could get fresh material and inspiration from people completely outside your professional sphere.

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  2. I don’t think this ScriptMag person understands what a writer’s group is. He says “Readers: Develop a group of trusted readers who will not tell you what you want to hear, but who will tell you the truth. Preferably people who love to read and who you don’t know, or know very little. Give them specifics on what you are looking for with input and let them go at it. This will be real-world advice you can use.”

    That’s exactly what a writer’s group is…

    I’ve been in quite a few, and most have been awful. It’s nearly impossible to find a few other people who are on the same writing level as you, much less people who are experienced with criticism and dedicated enough to show up once or twice a month.

    I love my writers group because we get to talk about stories for a few hours every few weeks. Usually, we are talking about someone else’s script and, thus, someone else’s problem. There’s nothing better than giving someone a brilliant note that will be a ton of work.

    I used to get hit on at writing events. Then I started wearing a faux engagement ring or trying to mention my boyfriend really early in the convo. I don’t really mind someone asking me out if he’s clear about his intentions. Then I can be clear about my relationship status. It’s the ones who make it seem like they’re only after friendship you have to worry about.

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    • The whole writer’s group thing could go either way I suppose. Like any social setting, I’m sure there are pros and cons to each. This is my first time trying them out, and I said in the post, my Monday night group is a productive time. I haven’t attempted any others yet, so there could be some bad ones. I was just at a loss of how to obtain the contacts without joining groups.

      I’ve always considered buying an “engagement ring” for those occasions when being a single woman is just hard to take. I used to be a server and a bartender, so I’ve always had a boyfriend story to refer to. He had a name, a job, etc. I suppose there are plenty of us out there who try to be a little nicer when confronted. It just felt out of context.

      Thanks for your feedback and for sharing!

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