This week I’d like to talk to you about the importance of joining a writing group.
I know, writing is usually a solitary activity. Many of us are introverts and I reckon some of us aren’t comfortable around other people. Sitting in front of the computer, or with a notebook, away from the world is part of what makes us love writing. We feel at home surrounded by books and empty pages.
Thankfully a lot of writing groups meet online these days and neither require leaving the house nor having to comb our hair or change out of the fluffy bathrobe and slippers.
In 2015 the decision to turn this writing thing into more than just a hobby was fresh. I was motivated and ready to produce words, and I wrote a lot of words in 2015. I wrote my first complete novel as an adult (believe me you don’t want to see the one I wrote when I was 15) which I’m currently revising. After that, I wrote a horror novella (which turned out too tame and hence is, at least for now, shelved) and I even wrote a fantasy novel for children (which possibly isn’t adventurous enough) which I’m hoping to rewrite soon.
Then 2016 came. And with it the rejections. “Unfortunately, this story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now. We wish you best of luck finding the right market for it.”
What even does this mean? Was it shit? Should I stop writing? Was it just not good enough but not bad either? Did you like it and might have given it a second look under different circumstances but it doesn’t fit what you’re currently looking for? TELL ME.
But they get a thousand submissions every week and they don’t have the time to tell you. Instead you get variations of the above sentence.
I got discouraged. Is my writing good enough? Is my English good enough or should I write in German? Can I even plot? Do I know what to do with words?
My only feedback came from my partner, friends and some family members and obviously that feedback can’t (always) be trusted. Feedback like that is a start, of course, but they love you and will never be as harsh as is needed for us writers to be able to improve.
How do you battle crippling self doubt, lack of ideas, writer’s block and everything else the world throws at you?
Tip: not by sitting at home in front of your computer weeping because you think you’re shit at what you do.
Find a writing group instead. Weep with them instead. A writing group will offer encouragement, good feedback and a place to talk characters, plot, storytelling, grammar, and publishing with like-minded people.
If you get stuck in the middle of a story, you can ask for help and ideas. Once you’ve finished a piece, they can provide beta reading and feedback. Whenever you’ve got questions, someone will have an answer.
They all work towards the same goal as you. You’re not alone.
Share your journey and take some new writing friends along.
You’re wondering how to find a writing group? Facebook has tons of groups filled with helpful people. Reddit has several subreddits dedicated to fantasy, sci-fi and other writers. If you aren’t comfortable with the first group(s) you find, don’t worry. People don’t all fit together. Not everyone is for everyone and that’s all right. Keep looking.
Since I’ve joined Garage Fiction I’ve been writing regularly and I keep finding new motivation thanks to our brilliant members. I feel like I’ve really improved my writing by taking onboard the feedback I’m receiving and my confidence is growing steadily, and since my goal is to become a published author, that growth is necessary.