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On Writers’ Groups

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Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash.

A couple of years ago (feels like forever but it’s mostly the pandemic), when I started writing fiction seriously, I wanted to find out how and so, of course, I looked online. I found a host of online Writers Groups that were very useful for me back then. The forums online gave me a crash course in writers’ lingo in a low-stakes environment where it was ok to ask stupid questions because no one knows your name on the internet*.

I’m an introvert and talking to people is one of my least favourite things to do, especially if I don’t know these people, which is why the internet can be an excellent crutch. No real-time talking required, I can edit my post all day and not say anything idiotic or at least anything ungrammatical. But at some point, I realised that it is a crutch. It’s preventing me from going out and meeting actual people.

And so, I went in search of a writing group and found a writers’ group, which is not entirely the same thing. A writing group is where you come in, you write along with other people, and then you chat, not necessarily about writing. A writers’ group is where you come along, and people read things they wrote, and you give them feedback or just listen to other writers giving them feedback. Or you read something you’ve written and get feedback.

There’s a world of difference between a large forum online and a close-knit group, even if that smaller group does meet online. For instance, this writers’ group moved online because of the pandemic, and we’ve come even closer together. I’m not entirely sure what it is. Could be the fact that you get to know the people better, and can comment about what they read in relation to previous stuff they’ve read. It could just be that people are more committed when it’s a small group, and people do know your name, and they ask after you if you just drop off the face of the earth (or the zoom).

And it could be the honest and thoughtful feedback. We have such fantastic discussions in our group. Every once in a while, someone would say something that just clicks for you and will move your writing forward. Not just your project, your whole writing. And that’s awesome. And every once in a while you say something that clicks for someone else, and you get to see that, because it’s not some random alias online, it’s someone you’ve met and you talk to on a regular basis. And you get to watch that person’s writing grow, and that’s a feeling like no other.

* I always use my actual name, so that’s not true for me, but oh well.


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