As a writer, are there benefits to being part of a writer’s group? Just like everything in life, even chocolate, there are pros and cons. If you aren’t a joiner than a writer’s group would be painful. But if you are on the fence, here are five questions you should consider:
- How well do you handle criticism? A well-managed writer’s group will have a process and procedure for the proper way to offer constructive criticism however, writer’s group are made up of people, and not all people understand how to give a critique without hurting feelings.
- Are you willing to read other’s works? From a selfish point of view, we may be interested in what others think of our book, but if the idea of reading a bunch of other people’s stories and offering advice bores you to tears, a writing group may not be your best avenue. The benefit of the writing group is the opportunity to experience other writing styles and techniques, however, if this isn’t of interest to you; stay clear of writing groups.
- Are you willing to make the time commitment? Many writers are crafting their novel or non-fiction book while working full time jobs. Adding the commitment of not only attending regular writing group meetings but the time it will take to read and critique other works can be a considerable drain on your available time. Keep this in mind when considering joining a group.
- Are you comfortable in group settings? This is a question especially for those joining in-person groups. The most effective writing group is one where everyone is contributing. If you are shy and uncomfortable sharing your thoughts or participating in group discussions an in-person writing group may not be the best fit. However, you may want to check out virtual writing groups where the entire process is handled online.
- Do you have a purpose for joining the group? Before you join a group you may want to examine exactly what you hope to accomplish. Are you looking for validation or a critique that will help you be a better writer? Are you looking for a social environment to help you get out of the house and hang with kindred spirits? Understanding your purpose for being part of a writing group is important when you start looking for the best group for your needs. There are some writing groups that are very serious about their craft and others that enjoy chatting and socializing about the writing process. Understand your goal before joining a group.
There are many pros and cons to being part of a writing group. Ask any writer who has participated in one. Chances are they will have a very strong opinion; one way or the other.
If you decide you’d like to join a group, give yourself permission to try out a few. Attending one meeting doesn’t require a lifelong commitment. If you don’t like the vibe or they focus on a genre outside your sphere, find a different group to join.
Bottom Line: There are always benefits to sharing your words with others however; there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to participating in a writing group. Do what feels the best for you.