Writing Group Wonders

How stepping out of my comfort zone has helped me improve my writing.

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As a writer, I have often considered the steps I would need to take to write my first novel. These steps include: doing research, reading books, and consulting with an actual published author.

The author I consulted with is a local romance novelist named Barbara Davis, who told me what it was like to develop a narrative for a story. One of the things she told me was that receiving lots of feedback from other writers is an important step in completing a novel. The way she accomplished this was by going to local writer’s groups, who got together every so often to discuss and review each other’s story ideas.

At first, I was a little apprehensive about sharing my ideas with many different people. But then I learned that sometimes these writing groups had talent scouts who work for publishing companies that come to the meetings. These talent scouts would observe the group and look for anyone who had fresh ideas that could be made into a novel. Soon it became clear to me that one way or the other, going to a writing group would be a big help to my writing career.

I looked for all the different writing groups in the area through a website known as Meetup.com. By using Meetup, I could narrow down the kind of writing group that I wanted: one focused on fiction. There were a couple of other writing groups that focused on genres, such as: poetry, journalism, scientific research, and Faith-based writing. Once I found the group I wanted, I had to contact the person who was hosting the group and ask if I could join. The host agreed.

This first group I joined was called Upper Valley Writers, and it took place in Lebanon, NH. This was almost an hour away from my dorm room here in Henniker, but at the time, I was certain this was the writing group I needed. It was not until later that I realized this  group was not right for me.

My first meeting with Upper Valley Writers took place in the public library in Lebanon. When I first got there, I was a little distressed to learn that most of the other members of the group are elderly people. This worried me because I was hoping there would be other people there in my age group that I could talk to who had the same interests as me. But I was reassured by the fact that some of the people there were authors who had published books before. This meant that I was getting expert help on my work. After a while, I decided that this group was not right for me because almost no one there had any experience with fantasy writing, and therefore could not help me with much of my writing.

That’s when I moved onto my current group: Write Free or Die located in Derry. Like my previous writing group, this one was also comprised of mostly elderly people. Each week we traded stories so that we could give each other feedback. This was difficult for me at times, because I was not very adept at editing other peoples’ work, but I got used to it eventually. The feedback I provided was similar to the peer reviews of my classmates’ papers that I complete in many of my English classes here at NEC.

I think this group is helping me improve. The people there have given me a lot of constructive criticism about what they have seen in my writing. I may not always enjoy it when they point out the various errors in my work, but at the same time, the people in my writing group seem to find more errors in my work than most people here at NEC. I have shown my story ideas to many teachers and professional tutors at my college, but  the people at Write Free or Die seem to do a better job at criticizing me. I can tell it will not be long before I manage to write my first novel with their help.

 

 

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