As writers there are any number of books, articles and blogs that look to give the tips and tricks for cultivating a successful writing career. One tip I have come across numerous times is to join a writer’s group. For some, the mere mention of walking into to a group of other writers and sharing your work has been known to induce a cold sweat and clammy hands; its fear factor second behind pitching your work for the first time.
The first group I joined consisted of 8 women I had either never met or had met, once or twice before. Not exactly the most ideal way to ease into sharing your work, but I figured if I was going to join a group I would go with the first opportunity. So off I went, feet first over the edge.
Now generally, I am able to talk in front of people and convey my opinions with confidence and ease. Then it was my turn to share the piece I was working on and I became a wreck. As I read, I flushed to a shade somewhere between crimson and purple and my voice quivered so badly I sounded like a scared goat. It was definitely not my shining moment.
But as the weeks stretched to months, we built a connection. I began to seek out these women for not just their feedback on my writing but for their support. We were all striving to a common dream of being writers. Family and friends are definitely a support, but it is the person that has lost sleep over a sentence, or has faltered in the face of a deadline and a glaring blank page, that will truly connect with our angst. When I’d become frustrated and discouraged, they would not tell me, “You’re working too hard, just take a break.” They would rally to push me forward and help me find my way back on track.
Sadly, time and circumstance got in the way and that writers group disbanded. But I recently had dinner with several of the women. In that room the same energy surged and we found our connection was still there. We went around the room and spoke of recent pitfalls and triumphs and it was magical. A great writers group will become more than getting someone to help you with an awkward sentence here or there. Once you find the one that’s right for you (not all groups will suit), it will become a support and connection, that as a writer, you will not want to be without.