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Finding the Right Writing Group

The road to publication is an endurance race. We prepare. We stretch our writing muscles. We take a hard look at our mistakes and how to fix them. We practice, practice, practice until we get it right. The one thing we don’t do—we don’t give up.

When I started writing, I didn’t get a lot of encouragement. Although liked by my teachers for my effort, I never did well in school and my home life…well let’s just say it was dysfunctional.

Jumping ahead into my late 30’s, the passion for writing returned. My situation had changed from no support to an abundance of support. The feeling of self-doubt still lingered over my head like a dark cloud, only I wouldn’t let it consume me.

Once I finished the novel, I searched online for what to do next. After hours of reading editor blogs and various other writing sources, I began searching for local writing groups to join.

The best thing I ever did.

A year after joining a group, I landed my first short story publication and then shortly after I contracted my first novel. Early this year, I signed my fifth publication (third novel in the Twisted Roots Saga) set to release late fall 2016.

I endured! I prepared. I stretched my writing muscles by taking a hard look at my manuscript. I learned how to fix them and then I rewrote, reworked, and polished—over and over again.

How does this help you?

First know not all writing groups are the same. Find one that works for you. I realized after a few years had passed, the group I was in stopped working for me. It was great for new writers, but I had grown so much, I needed something more intense.

Things you’ll want to know/ask:

  1. What is the format of the meetings?(Oral critique, line editing, discussion, topical, write-ins)

  2. Has anyone in the group been published?

  3. Is there a trail period?

  4. How often do they meet?

  5. What is expected from you?

Trail periods are great. This gives you time to observe the dynamics of the group and know if it’s a good fit.

A few tips on evaluating a group:

  1. Are they tough? If everyone goes around the table saying how great everyone’s stories are, there’s a problem. There is always something that needs attention.

  2. Is everyone participating? Huge red flags if the majority of the members are NOT participating.

  3. When they give feedback, are they specific? If they like something, do they explain why? If they don’t understand, do they offer suggestions on how to fix it?

  4. Do the people in the group get along? This is important because you are trusting your little darlings with people you don’t know—yet. However, remember, they are doing the same thing.



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