February 03, 2016
12 Benefits of Belonging to a Writers' Group by Steph Beth Nickel
As a founding member of WWC (Women Writing for Christ), the last 10+ years have been an adventure; one I've been able to share with incredible friends and fellow writers.
Here are a dozen reasons you may want to join (or form) a writers' group:
1. Spend time with people who "get you."
Have you ever been excited about something you've read or something you've written only to share it with those whose eyes glaze over? It's nice when that doesn't happen.
2. Benefit from encouragement.
I'm not talking about flattery, but genuine, authentic encouragement. It's wonderful to spend time with fellow writers who will spur you on to develop your skills and who will point out what you do well and kindly let you know what you can improve.
3. Be challenged to learn new skills.
Whether it's in the form of recommended reading, critiques, or freewriting sessions, there are many ways you can learn as a member of a writers' group. You may even want to take turns teaching lessons. There's nothing like hunting up info to share to increase your knowledge.
4. Grow more courageous.
Even experienced authors often find it unnerving to share their writing with others. You're in good company.
5. Learn how to take constructive criticism.
It isn't easy to hear what others say about your work, especially if they tell you what you could improve as well as what you did well. But it is a great way to develop as a writer. I've often said writers must be able to pour out their hearts on the page but have hides as thick as an alligator's.
6. Learn to critique others' writing.
It's surprising how much you can learn from critiquing another's work. It will help you improve your writing as well as theirs. Just a note ... It's best to find out what the other person wants you to focus on. A critique is not an edit.
7. Stretch your writing muscles with freewriting sessions.
While other members of WWC find this a real challenge, I love freewriting sessions ... maybe because I see journaling as "rambling until I stumble across truth." Plus, I think it's amazing how we all create completely different pieces from the same writing prompt. (There is no critiquing allowed at this stage. Otherwise, we'd be too timid to write whatever comes to mind and we definitely wouldn't want to share it.)
8. Get your creative juices flowing.
Being around other writers can inspire you to make the time to write no matter how crazy busy life gets. It also helps if you are expected to take something you've written to the next meeting.
9. Be challenged to write something you never considered before.
As I mentioned, each of us will start with the same prompt and produce entirely different pieces, from poems to short stories to nonfiction works. What fun!
10. Make connections with writers beyond your group.
The four founding members of WWC attended Write Canada over a decade ago ... in matching t-shirts no less. Talk about energizing! Even if you find the idea of attending a workshop or conference overwhelming, it's the perfect place to learn new skills and network with others in the writing world.
It was through the founder of our group, Ruth Waring, that I met Deb Willows. Deb and I went on to coauthor her award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. And who did I want at the launch? Members of WWC, of course.
12. Discover the thrill of "rejoicing with those who rejoice."
It isn't only about your writing successes; it's about celebrating those of other group members as well. The best writers' groups, in my opinion, are those made up of true friends who will challenge you to become all you can be and who will throw a party when you reach a milestone along the way.
To the ladies of WWC ... You are treasured gifts from God Himself. I'm thankful for each of you.
Please note that I'm also thankful for each InScribe member I've had the privilege of interacting with. Our connection is a result of my membership in WWC. (I love how the Lord weaves our lives together.)
And by extension, I'm thankful for each of you who is reading this. Without readers, where would writers be anyway?