Pros and Cons of Writing Groups

I personally don’t have much experience with writing groups.  I’ve never officially joined one and find the idea of doing so unappealing and intimidating.  It’s hard enough for me to share portions of my work with close friends, let alone near-strangers, especially since I am not good at summaries.  I’m sure a few readers will think, “Well, if you don’t try to get to know them, of course they’ll remain near-strangers and you’ll never feel comfortable sharing your work.”  True.  But I would rather gravitate towards friends who already like to talk about writing and slowly create a group that way.

The success or failure of a writing group really depends on the people in it.  If you are in a group that has people you trust who will give you honest, solid feedback, then I think you’ll have fun and improve your writing.  But if the others in your group don’t give good feedback and are not decent writers themselves, then neither you nor your writing will have much fun.  Some writing groups do weekly or monthly writing assignments or exercises for their members to participate in, and if that’s something you and your fellow writers are interested in, go for it.  However, don’t get so bogged down in exercises and “being a writer” that you forget to have fun.

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Accepting Criticism With Grace

No one likes criticism.  No one wants to hear that the paper or story or script that they spent days, weeks, months, even years slaving over is no good.  Or even that only parts of it are not good.  “Sorry, you missed the mark, try again.”

Rejection hurts.  Criticism hurts.  It’s like watching someone sucker-punch your infant child while having your fingers amputated because you aren’t worthy to be a writer and then having salt and alcohol slathered over those gaping, bleeding wounds.

Okay, I don’t think I’ve felt quite that extreme a reaction to criticism, but it is a lot like amputation and birth contractions, coming in waves with occasional sharp pangs that make you want to crawl into a hole and hide your face from the world forever.

But like the pain of a birth or an amputation, criticism is necessary in order for us to grow.

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