A writing group is made up of writers who provide feedback and encouragement to help each other become better writers—and to publish and sell books. If you're thinking of joining a writing group, here are some pros and cons to help you make your decision.
- You can spend time with *real* people (and they are adults!).
- You receive encouragement from like-minded people who don't think you're crazy for having entire conversations in your head.
- You learn from the other members' strengths.
- You receive feedback and ideas on what you're currently writing from a diverse group of people—for free.
- You'll learn to take feedback well. This includes understanding what the underlying problem is that prompted the feedback—maybe the suggested change isn't the best one, but you can know that a change is needed because a scene is too stale, too unbelievable, too drawn-out, etc.
- You'll learn to give feedback well. And the more practice you have identifying flaws in others' work, the better you'll be able to identify flaws in your own work.
- You have a group that holds you accountable for your goals.
- You'll learn about writing and publishing opportunities from others in the group.
- Once you've published your book, your writing group can be a good source of reviews.
- Some members will see the group as a way to polish their own half-formed, problem-riddled ideas, and then you have to read that stuff.
- It is a time commitment that will take you away from writing and from your family.
- Some members may not be experienced, so the advice you receive may not be as helpful as that received from more experienced authors. Again, you'll need to try to understand the underlying problem behind the feedback, so you can make the best adjustments.
- There can be drama.
- There may be a fee to join the group.
Other Things to Know
- Writer groups usually work well for about 5 years after you've first started writing, after which business and success pulls members away, and you've probably improved to the point that you don't need a writer's group anymore. You may be able to replace the group with beta readers and good content editors.
- When you receive negative criticism, don't feel down or give up. Everyone has room to improve. Use the criticism to become a better writer.
- Writing groups should give you a good mix of criticism and encouragement. If you join a group that is leaning more heavily to one or the other, it is time to either have a serious discussion with your group on how to give good feedback, or find a different group.
Can you think of any additional pros and cons of writing groups? Let us know in the comments below!
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