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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Writers Meet Face to Face

So, I'm finally doing it. After six years of writing in my own little world with the occasional input from online writing communities, I am joining a real-live writing group. This of course means the buffer between comments and reactions will disappear and I can only hope I'm ready for it.

The last time I sat in a writing group was March of 2006. How do I know? Because I was expecting my first child and after finding out we were having a boy, I skipped writing group to celebrate with my husband and never returned. At that point, my writing was put aside as well in order to prepare for our new arrival, not to be seriously picked up again until October 2009. Even then it was more as a side venture than looking to be a novelist.

March 2010 saw a shift in my career, opening up more time for me to spend with my children and with my writing. With my husband pushing me along, I managed to write my first two novels by the end of the year. One went on to the quarter-finals of the ABNA contest last year. The pen was back in my hand and scribbling away. The only problem - I had a limited audience.

Looking to garner feedback and improve my writing, I turned to online communities like Authonomy and smaller writing groups formed through online friendships during ABNA and NaNoWriMo. While the help given through these venues was great, I realized I needed something more. My husband knew it, too. When we moved he suggested I join the writing group at our library.

I put it off for months, saying I didn't have the time. It was more an issue of anxiety. Like most writers, I'm an introvert. We prefer to write on our own and only comment on another's writing when we have something worth pointing out. The internet is great for us. It allows us to lurk on forums, read whatever we feel like reading and open our mouths only when necessary.

Let's face it, on the internet is a writer's best friend. We're writers, we love expressing ourselves through the written word. On the internet we appear witty and easy-going. That's not to say we're not in reality, but we tend to hold back. We have to let our internal editor stop our mouths more or risk offending someone. With our writing, offending is often seen as a plus.

In a writing group, there's nowhere to hide and lurk in the shadows. Everyone can see you sitting there and will quickly catch onto your commenting style. Things you like and what you'll pick on. How often you speak up and how long you sit there quietly. Basically, I'm a bit nervous, and not about my own writing. Hopefully I'll survive tonight with minimal damage and decide it wasn't so bad. I'll let you know in a week.

Anyone else in a 'Real-Live' writing group? What do you like about it? Does your group do something different to ease the feedback/commenting?


  1. Good Luck Emily...am anxious to hear how it went. :-)

    1. Thanks, Gretchen. I'll be putting up a post later today.