Writing groups have played an important part in my development as a writer. My first books were academic texts written to a formula set by the publisher which I didn’t need to share with others. But writing those helped to set my life into a productive pattern because I saw writing as a job that I sat down to each day whether or not I felt inspired. When I tried to branch out into writing fiction I started to look round for peer support.
Medway Mermaids (www.medwaymermaids.btik.com) meet once a month like most groups. Before the meetings they exchange by email pieces they’ve been writing so they can prepare to discuss them at the meetings. The members write all sorts of different material, poetry, short stories, magazine articles, travel, memoir and novels. As the website says: some of the members are published, some have hopes of one day becoming published, and some enjoy writing for its own sake. It was a good place to find out about competitions and events and get the kind of support that a new writer needs. I just needed someone to tell me I could do it and encourage me to keep going.
Nanowrimo (www.nanowrimo.org) (inter)National Novel Writing Month was a big breakthrough. It felt as though the whole world was writing that first November when I took part. Logging the word length each day with the online community gave me a great sense of achievement and I met Elizabeth Haynes (www.Elizabeth-Haynes.com). Elizabeth is a great inspiration to writers of all kinds and very generous with her time and support to others. A group of us joined her on a writing retreat at West Dean last year and wrote together all weekend. After November those of us in Kent who took part in Nanowrimo have kept in touch through Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/groups/431879136867994/).
Saveas Writers (www.saveaswriters.co.uk) meets at UKC for in-depth discussion of work in progress. I went to a meeting for the first time yesterday and was made to feel very welcome. I would say it is a group for experienced writers who want detailed feedback; the sessions are intensive and quite hard work. The members are not all poets so it was just coincidence that all the pieces we read last night were poetry.
Whitstable Women Writers will be my next adventure into the world of writing groups.
Writing groups are all different and I think it’s important to find the one that’s right for you.