Should I Join a Writers' Group?


Ages ago when I started writing my first book I was very alone in the process. My only source of information was from the library. Fortunately no one has to be in that position these days. Now we are overloaded with sources of information. If you are serious about writing should you consider joining a writer’s group? My response is a resounding “YES!” These are the reasons why:

1. Education You can read about writing and publishing in books and on line but to truly learn you need to practice and discuss. Think of it as not having to reinvent the wheel. If you are just beginning to write you can pick up all sorts of information that will make you a more productive writer, a better writer. If you are experienced the same is true as we all either continue to learn or grow stagnant. The added benefit for the experienced writer is getting to share what they have learned. No matter where you are on the spectrum from beginning to published you benefit from discussing writing, publishing, and life; from presentations on the same; from writing exercises done in a supportive group.

2. Support An active, producing writer runs into roadblocks. Speaking about them with others eases the way through or around them. If you receive a rejection, your spirit is lifted by those who have also gotten them and by those who know they probably will get them. Support, encouragement and hope are invaluable on a long rocky road. Fellow writers who experience all that you do offer both. They balance the emotional seesaw we all experience in our writing careers and in our lives. They’ll commiserate with your rejections and there is nothing better than celebrating writing success with fellow writers.

3. Inspiration The sharing of experiences by the published authors in a group can be an inspiration for all. Their success shows it is possible that we too can be published. Also the members of a group inspire by helping--perhaps by brainstorming through a plotting problem, by giving “how to” information, by being there through any problem for that matter. That thought leads me to--

4. Friendship When I first joined WARA I had never had much of a chance to visit with other writers. Though I tend to be reserved and quiet I found that the members reaching out to me helped me reach out to them and others. It broadened not just my writing but my life. I’ve made several friends in WARA that I value greatly. My writing has been enriched. I have learned much. I have been blessed in no longer being alone.

5. Critical Support I was hard pressed to come up with a name for this one. I was thinking of the various critique groups within WARA. Those members who meet in small groups outside of our regular meeting to share what they write and offer constructive criticism to one another. Critique groups are not for everyone just as every critique group is not. But they are invaluable when you find the right one for you. It’s like having a sponsor and being one at the same time.

6. Agent and Market Information Fellow writers are a great source on current market trends and agents. If they don’t know, they can show you how to access that information on the Internet. Better yet, you can learn about what problems exist in dealing with agents and publishers and how to avoid them.

Should you join a writing organization? Do you want a safe, friendly environment to spread your writing wings? Do you want encouragement and support in your writing failures and successes? Do want to have recourse to a deep well of information; a place to discuss whatever is going on with your writing? If you do there is a writing organization waiting for you to join. Check out those in your area and find the right fit. I’m glad I did. I’ve listed a few writing groups in Kansas as a starting point. If you know of more in or near the Wichita area let us know. If you know of more reasons to join a writers group please comment on that too!

Wichita Area Romance Authors http://www.warawriters.com
Kansas Writers Association http://www.kwawriters.com/index.html
Kansas Authors Club http://skyways.lib.ks.us/orgs/kac/index.html
Kansas City Writers http://www.kansascitywriters.com/index.htm

9 comments:

Reese Mobley said...

Excellent post as always Joan. I agree 100% about finding a group that you feel comfortable with and one that challenges you to do your best. You add so much to WARA and I thank you for that.XOXO

Roxann Delaney said...

I'm going to add RWA (Romance Writers of America) to your list, Joan. RWA has chapters all over the U.S. and a sister organization in Australia. There are even online chapters a writer can join if there isn't a regular face-to-face chapter near.

RWA holds its annual conference each year in different city. The past three have been held in Washington, DC, San Fransisco, and Dallas. This is where networking really gets going! With 2000 attendees, there's always someone who can answer questions or just chat about those ups and downs of being not only a writer, but a romance writer.

RWA can be worth the membership fee, especially in the early years of writing. It was for me. I've made lifelong best friends, thanks to RWA.

Roxann Delaney said...

Back to groups in general...

I have Penny to thank for luring me to WARA. I would stop in at B. Dalton for the latest Writers or Writers Digest, and she always invited me to visit a meeting. At the time, I wasn't writing romance, but when I made the switch, she was there and so was all of WARA.

I was gone from WARA for a while due to life's little bumps, but I'm thrilled to be back again among friends. If it wasn't for WARA, my brainstorming buddies, and the blessed Internet, I know I wouldn't be as far along with my writing and probably would've given up, long ago.

Thanks, WARA!

Deborah said...

Joan, you are so right. Writing can be a lonely endeavor. Finding like-minded people who understand that you have people in your head is a blessing. Plus, it is wonderful to gain knowledge and insight from other writers whose strengths maybe different from your own.

Pat Davids said...

You've nailed it Joan. Without WARA and RWA I wouldn't have found my agent or my editor. The resorces and support of people who have "been there, done that" can make all the difference.
Pat

Joan Vincent said...

Thank you Reese, Rox, Deborah, and Pat. And thanks for adding RWA, Rox. I thought of it but I've been a bit distracted of late as well as battling a new weird infection and don't know where that thought went.
I belong to the Beau Monde which is a specialty RWA chapter centered around the Regency. A lot of the members are just online on the email loop and the online classes the chapter offers like me--there is more than one way to "join in."
You guys all have made a great difference for me.

Starla Kaye said...

I absolutely love being a part of WARA, and I also enjoy being part of KWA although I don't get to attend its meetings very often. You can share your writing thoughts with other people in your life, but only will another writer actually understand you.

A writers organization does everything Joan mentioned: helps with a writer's education on the craft, supports fellow writers, can be a source of inspiration and new friends with a common interest, can help in critiquing your work, and can be another source of agent and marketing information.

And, as Roxann mentioned, there are many more than just the local writers groups to which you can belong. Including the national romance writers group, RWA.

Did I mention that I LOVE being a part of WARA?!

Nina Sipes said...

Not joining a writer's group is like locking yourself in a dark closet with beetles. Where would you turn for help? I can imagine my life without WARA and RWA and it isn't pretty. Writer's groups, especially romance writer's groups are very good at sharing the learning. Penny's kind generosity in being gentle about asking if I was writing lured me in. I'm so grateful she did.

Penny Rader said...

Wonderful post, Joan!

I'm so thankful I found RWA and the wonderful ladies of WARA. If not for you guys, I don't know that I would have ever made it past the first few chapters, let alone actually finish a book and sell it.

The inspiration, hugs, laughter, knowledge, feedback, fun, support,and friendships offered mean the world to me. And the chocolate, too. {grin}