When I lived in London, England, I threw literary evenings once a month. Okay, I’ll be honest it wasn’t strictly literary, there was some wine involved even though I don’t drink. It was a small group of four and the idea was to critique each other’s works—positively. Not criticize. No one was above each other, irrespective of academic qualifications. We started with personal works that we were working on and moved on to works from a topic that was agreed on from the previous session. I especially liked the idea of picking a topic at random to write. It certainly made my creative juices flow. I truly was inspired by this aspect, and as a result, I have many writings including poems.
Now, I disliked writing this genre. I couldn’t wrap my head around rhyming couplets, iambic pentameter, alliteration and all that fluff. But after some words of wisdom from the group, I joined a writing class at university and I can now write about a light bulb and make it interesting. I kid you not, and I’ve grown to like this style of writing.
I have short stories too, though none ever touched an editor’s desk—from choice, but I have published poems.
I learned a great deal from my fellow scribes, and those meetings sharpened my need to be disciplined and dedicated to finishing a piece of work. It also brought out my competitive edge. I refused to be the odd one out. I wanted to participate and made sure I produced at every meeting.
This is the beauty of gathering with like-minded people. You can bounce off each other, and in the process learn something new. More importantly, you could learn something about yourself. I learned I had a hidden talent. I never thought that I would write poems, let alone enjoy and publish them, and I’m really quite good at it. What about you? Have you found a hidden talent while being in a group? Chances are, you haven’t been in one and you should. If you are a writer—it doesn’t matter at what level—you should make it your professional duty to be involved in one. There are things that you can do alone, but it is much better to be with others who share your interest. I have since moved to North America and I’m in several groups. So don’t procrastinate, join a group? If you are unable to find one nearby, create one. Here are some tips on how to go about it.
Develop a list of people who you know would be interested in attending. Look beyond experienced writers. There are people who simply like to write as a hobby. You would be surprised to know there are many closet-writers lurking in your town or city. You can find them on the Internet in such places like, Facebook or Yahoo Groups. Invite them to join. The more varied your group, the more diverse will be your discussions.
Next, select a good time to meet. If meetings will be on a weekday, don’t start at 5 or 6 p.m. people work. 7 to 7.30 P.M. is a good time. If weekends, bear in mind this time is used to catch up with domestic chores and such like. Also parents will be chauffeuring their children to football or hockey practice.
How long should the meeting be? A decent time line of 2-hours can work.
What about location? This could be anywhere, though you ideally want somewhere that is not noisy i.e. a pub or bar. If it is at someone’s house, have a kitty. Ask the group members to contribute towards refreshments and light snacks. Okay, you could throw in some cheap plunk.
If you are going to produce a newsletter or have minutes taken, set guidelines as to whose responsibility it will be and when it will be available. If they are going to be other areas of member involvement, again, set guidelines. Remember, you are a professional group and should conduct the meeting as such.
Feel confident in your abilities. Everyone should approach the group as equals and express their thoughts and feelings. Manage your emotions. Different perspectives make the discussion interesting. Although you may have opposing points of view at times, respect the ideas and point of view of each member.
Enjoy stimulating discussion and share thoughts and communicate in a positive way. This is an opportunity to see things through the eyes of each member in the group. Creative stimulus will expand your thought process and strengthen your writing that will lead to you getting published.
Write It, Work It, Publish it!
© 2011 Cherry-Ann Carew
Cherry-Ann Carew, aka The Power Writing Coach, Editor, Founder of Writetastic Solutions and best-selling author, helps fiction and non-fiction writers with their creative expression to add value to their books. Learn how her coaching and editing services can help you with your book at www.writetasticsolutions.com. While there, subscribe for your complimentary Special Report