Every November, National Novel Writing Month inspires writers everywhere to get their butts in gear and finally write the books they've always wanted to create. An exciting literary challenge that ignites a nation-wide creativity, NaNoWriMo encourages writers to engage with one another, share work, and support each other through in person and online groups, but there are so many other reasons you should join a writing group outside of the annual challenge. They are some of the most helpful resources to anyone who wants to be or already is a writer.
Whether they are online or in person, a group of professionals or a gathering of amateurs, writing groups can help writers in every stage of their career or project. They're meant to be safe spaces for writers of every walk of life to come together to support each other's work, critique each other's projects, and encourage each other's creativity. It's a wonderful community of people with the same interests and the same goals as you, and there's nothing quite as inspiring of getting together with your fellow writers and seeing what you can help each other accomplish.
If you're a writer-in-training, a professional looking for support, or a hopeful NaNoWriMo winner, here are 10 reasons why joining a writing group just may be the best thing you can do for your craft.
1. It will provide you will technical and emotional support.
When you're at home alone writing, it's easy to feel all alone. If you need help working through a tough sentence, you're only aid is the Internet and your books. When you're feeling frustrated about a stunted character, you won't find anyone to vent to at the water cooler, because you work by yourself. When you join a writer's group, however, you join a community of people there to help you out no matter the case. If you are looking for technical support to help you smooth out your syntax, you writing group is there. When you feel lost and upset about your future, you're writing group is by your side. They have your back, through thick and thin, whenever you need them.
2. You will build important connections.
Professional writing is as much about skill as it is about your connections. Writing groups provide an ongoing networking opportunity that can lead to editorial connections, job recommendations, blurbs, and even new career opportunities. Everyone is there to help each other in whatever way they can, in and outside of the group's meeting.
3. It adds a social aspect to an otherwise solitary career.
Writing is usually a solo thing, which can leave a lot of writers feeling lonely and shut in. There are some days that I don't leave my home office, and I don't talk to anyone aside from my dogs all day. Groups give writers a reason to leave the house without distracting them from what matters most: the writing. Even authors need a little fresh air, some good company, and a little bit of wine now and then.
4. It will teach you the fine art of giving and receiving criticism.
A big part of being a professional writer is receiving constant criticism. Whether it be from an editor, a publication, a reader, or another writer, you're bound to be told negative things about your writing at least once in your life. By joining a writing group, you're preparing yourself to face that criticism in a safe and familiar setting surrounded by people you know support you. On the flip side, writing groups can also teach you how to effectively give criticism to fellow writers, a skill that not only helps the people you critique, but your own writing as well.
5. You might find a role model.
In every career, it's important to find a role model, someone you look up to whose achievements you admire and whose trajectory you aspire to. By joining a writing group, you're surrounding yourself with people who could potentially be just that: writers whose work you appreciate and whose track record you can learn from.
6. It will help you build up your nerves.
Let's face it: sharing your creative work with the world is terrifying. It's like throwing your new born baby out into the world to fend for itself. Joining a writing groups gives you an opportunity to share your work in a smaller setting, one you know and trust, before presenting it to the big bad world of the unknown. It's a trial run every writer's nerves could use.
7. You'll develop a sharper critical eye.
You know what they say: the best writers are good readers. That doesn't just mean that great authors read a lot of books, it means that they have the skills to read critically. By submersing yourself in a community that requires you to not only share your own work for evaluation, but to evaluate the works of others, too. The better your editing skills are, the better your own work will be.
8. It will help you set goals and hold you to them.
One of the most difficult parts of meeting your writing goals is lack of accountability. If you're working on a book without a deadline or a due date, there's nothing forcing you to push through writing droughts or work past writer's block. In a writing group, you will find peers who will not only help you figure out what to write and how to write it, but who will make sure that you keep writing it.
9. You will strengthen your basic writing foundation.
Writing groups are more than just sitting around and reading each other's works. They involve creative exercises, guest speakers, writing prompts, and more. The unique aspects of your group will help you build up your basic writing skills, from your character development to your sentence structure. It's like a creative writing class and a support group, all in one.
10. It will inspire you and your writing.
My favorite part about being involved in a writing group, the part I think all writers can truly benefit from, is their ability to inspire you to create something new and incredible. The writers in your group will push you to be your best, and their creative talents will inspire you to explore your own. With the help of fellow artists, and by helping fellow artists, you are able to accomplish more than you ever thought you could.
So what are you waiting for?
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