Monday, September 08, 2014

[Guest Post] "How Writing Groups Help Even the Experts"

Hey, guys! Today, I present a guest post provided by Nick Barron of Grammarly.com. Enjoy! :)


In high school, there is no end to groups you can join. There are the Save the Whales, Trees, and New Zealand Kakapos clubs that focus on a cause. The drama clubs entertain; the language clubs practice skills. The sports teams are essentially recreation and exercise groups. These organizations provide association for youth who may feel out of place. There is no doubt: clubs are the bee’s knees. Unfortunately, however, many adults leave the group life behind after they walk the university stage to receive their degree. That is a big mistake, people! Groups are a great way to network, gain inspiration, and receive support. Here are four reasons that writing groups should be a permanent fixture in the life of any writer.

Writing Groups: Learn from Other Writers

Why reinvent the wheel? One can learn a lot from veteran writers. They have pioneered the path that you are now walking. Many are quite happy to provide advice. Some veteran authors associate to keep themselves active. Others may attend with the goal of mentoring new writers. Therefore, ask for advice about the plot of your novel. Request referrals to especially efficient editors, capable book cover artists, and reputable publishing houses. If they give you feedback on a script, listen. What if there are no experienced writers in the group? Even so, there will be people who can give you a reader’s perspective on your writing. You will gain inspiration from hearing the opinions of others. You will exchange ideas. Give as well as take; you can be an asset to the club. Think about how your life experiences will benefit others.

Writing Groups: Keep on Your Toes

How vigilant are you about cleaning when company is coming to your house? You clean in places that have not received attention in months. Writing groups help in a similar manner. You know someone else will be reading your work at various stages of development. Rather than wait until your manuscript is complete, you will remember to check for spelling and grammar errors early in the process. [Hostess' Note: The next few sentences pertain to non-fiction, but the rest pertains to both.] You will be careful to cite references correctly. You know you did not copy, but you need to ensure that you have thoroughly paraphrased. It cannot hurt to run your work through a plagiarism checker. After you have cleaned all the cobwebs from the corners, you will be proud to subject your work to the group’s attention.

Writing Groups to Support Your Habit

There are a lot of people who have successfully overcome addictions. By attending group meetings, some gain support from speaking with others with the same goals. One man recovering from substance abuse issues told me that the key to success was changing association. Without success, he had tried many times to stop using the drug. Finally, he decided to avoid others who lived the lifestyle that he was leaving. His new friends lived a healthy lifestyle. After much effort, he is free from the drug habit. As a writer, you need support in a similar way. By choosing regular association with those who share your passion, you will gain momentum in pursuing your writing aspirations.

Unless you live in Dreamland, you are going to face discouraging times. Manuscripts will be rejected, a mysterious force will take over your mind and force you to play Solitaire for hours rather than to write, and you will start and abandon dozens of great book ideas. The great thing about writing groups is you can relate to others who have similar challenges. You can commiserate. After the pity party is over, you can encourage each other to persevere. There are a lot of strange clubs for adults all over the Internet. Even social misfits have discovered what a great resource clubs are! If you fail to take advantage of what writing groups offer, your writing will suffer the consequences.

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About the Author

 

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.


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 Question of the Week:
Do you belong to a writing group?

Note from Carrie: Be sure to stop by next Thursday. I should have all of the How I Found the Write Path links for us to share! Here's a little preview... ;)

20 comments:

Melissa said...

Great post. Spot-on. :)

Writing groups?
Only online. Working weekends makes it hard to get plugged in locally.

Carrie Butler said...

Understandable! Now that I don't have a car, in-person writing groups are out for me.

Catherine Stine said...

I have been in a writing group with some of the same people for years. They are my trusted go-to peeps for advice, encouragement, and to help celebrate milestones.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never been in a real life writing group but I am involved in two online. They both keep me accountable.

SA Larsenッ said...

There aren't many writing groups in my vastly wooded state. When I began writing five years ago, I met up with one amazing lady. We keep in touch, but I've developed some wonderful online writing group peeps.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post. I love the analogy to cleaning. So true. I really need a critique group to help me when I lack perspective on my writing, which is a lot of the time.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I love my writing group, even if it's online. We've developed over the years and have grown together. We also get new blood periodically that keeps us on our toes.

Carrie-Anne said...

I haven't belonged to a writing group since the two years of Creative Writing Club at my first high school. I'd like to join a professional writers' group, even though there's a fee. I'm a bit leery of most amateur writers' groups, given some of the things I've heard, such as members eagerly making changes everyone suggests, no matter how inexperienced these people are at writing, instead of just asking for big picture feedback and then making one's own decisions on how to polish a book.

prerna pickett said...

this is something I need to get on! I'm a wee bit scared of writing groups, but I know that they only make your writing that much stronger.

Mark Noce said...

Such great advice:) I've sort of created my own online writing group over the years, which works well for me considering how far apart some of us live:)

cleemckenzie said...

I love my writing group for the reasons you've set out. They let me complain, too and then slap me up the side of the head and say, "Get over it!" Love 'em.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Nope but I am a proud part of the blogging community. Very informative article, writing groups are a great option.

Jay Noel said...

I've been a part of a couple writer groups, but they were full of crazies! I'm in the process of looking for a new group without drama.

JeffO said...

I've been part of a group for almost three years. I really enjoy it, and I've learned a lot from my group members.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Nikolas- you are so wise for one who looks so young. All people need support and purpose. People shouldn't leave clubs behind. I am in online support groups also. But I fill my non-writer life with plenty of social clubs too.

Loni Townsend said...

I love my local writing group. I started it 2 years ago, and we've all grown so much over that time. We've got such a diverse collection of talent, it's great to bring in all the different perspectives.

Not to mention getting out of the house really boosts my social life!

Sherry Ellis said...

Very true! I learned so much from the writers in my writers group!

Donna K. Weaver said...

I do. Have for nearly four nears and love it.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Awesome post, Carrie!

cleemckenzie said...

I don't live in Dreamland, so all of those things have happened to me. . .several times! My writers' group is my glue and inspiration. They hold me together at times I need it, and send me soaring if I'm thinking of staying inside the hanger.