Two months ago, I launched a Writers’ Critique Group in Miami, in the heart of South Beach. It’s probably the 2016 decision I’m most proud of, because in a very short time, this group has added a lot of value to my life.
Other members of the group have told me they feel the same way.
For one thing, we find that getting feedback from each other helps us revise our works-in-progress with a greater sense of purpose. For another thing, we provide each other with a very specific kind of social interaction, because we share a passion for stories and language.
“This feels formal,” one group member told me.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It feels like we’re really accomplishing things. Like we’re part of an important thing.”
After hearing what this member and others said, I went home and started this post, in hopes of inspiring my readers to build their own cohesive community of writers.
Here are three reasons why you should build a writing community:
Reason #1 –> Writers need friends.
Hurry! Hide in your cave! Getting any good writing done requires us to retreat to a place where we can concentrate for long periods of time. Whether we cloister ourselves at home or abscond to a library or coffee shop, it can’t be denied that writing is a solitary activity. The more time we spend getting good writing done, the more our social lives shrink.
- The solution? Build a community of writers and make friends who speak your language.
Reason #2 –> Writers need feedback.
Stop! Don’t click the “send” button yet! Before you submit a story, poem, novel, or essay for publication, you need revision tips from experienced and supportive writers. And while parents and best buds are often willing to review your work, they may lack the mindset required to give you the feedback you need.
- The solution? Build a community of writers who will become your fiercest beta-readers. They can catch typos and help you troubleshoot issues in your writing. Most importantly, they can identify the best aspects of your writing and push you toward greatness.
Reason #3 –> Writers need writing-specific vocabulary.
At the same time that writers receive feedback, we need to be giving it to others. Giving feedback isn’t just an exercise in reciprocity, though. It’s an important way to strengthen your literary vocabulary.
- The solution? Build a writing community in which members regularly articulate ways each of you can develop your writing, such as adding a subplot or intensifying a conflict. The sharper your critiques, the better able you are to improve your own writing. And just think about the kind of conversations you can have with literary agents, publishers, and editors down the road.
After leading only a few group meetings, I’ve realized that I should have started the Writers’ Critique Group SoBe a long time ago. I’ve done without its benefits for too long. Just when I think I’ve polished something enough, my critique buddies always inspire me to think about additional improvements. In committing myself to the upkeep of the community, I get to observe group members feeling more confident, from one meeting to the next, about the writing they share.
Are you ready to build your own writing community? Check out how in Part II of this series on Finding Your People.
Image credit: photo credit:
theirhistory<ahref=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/22326055@N06/16961565680″>Berridge, Nottingham via photopin (license)