Writers Groups, Part 1: Why writers need one

I apologize about not posting the review of Revolution on Monday, but I hadn’t finished it. I’m finished now and will post it next Monday.

For today’s post, I’m really excited about the topic. Writers groups are something I’m very passionate about. Which is why this is only part 1.

I have an awesome weekly writers group, without whom I would probably given up on writing a long time ago. We bounce ideas off of each other, tell each other what needs to be fixed and what’s plain weird, and tell each other how awesome we are. For me, they are the pressure to get something written every week so I can get feedback and make my book the best thing it can be.

In my opinion, every writer needs a writers group. No matter how amazing you are as a writer or how much your family sings your praises, you need feedback from other writers. No one can singly write an amazing novel. That’s why there are agents and editors. But before you can get to them, it’s a good idea to use other people to help you. Why have only two people (the agent and the editor) to help make your story better when you could have a few more?

A good writers group will tell you what needs to be fixed and what’s just plain weird. Different perspectives see different things. Looking at your own manuscript, you’re bound to miss things that are very obvious to other people. Or maybe something doesn’t ring true, and someone with different experiences knows that things don’t work quite the way you wrote them. Maybe your climax is a flop. Some things we just can’t see about our own work.

In my early drafts of my current WIP, I wanted to be different when it came to describing the cute guy of the novel. I was tired of the whole “ooh, his eyes” thing, so I tried another approach–his lips. It seemed a creative idea at the time. But after getting feedback from other writers, I discovered that my “creative” was a little creepy. And way more sexual than I ever intended. They didn’t tell me to scrap it, but I decided that’s what I needed to do. That was a little detail, but it saved me from writing the whole book focusing on his overly sexualized lips.

A good writers group will be there to bounce off ideas. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get stuck. Really stuck. A problem comes up and I’m at a loss. I can’t tell you how many of my good ideas came either directly from my writers group or as a result of my thoughts as we brainstormed. There’s no better way to kill writers block.

A good writers group will tell you how awesome you are. Getting feedback doesn’t mean it all has to be criticism. If they like something about your book, they’re there to tell you what’s good, what really works. On this one, I want to emphasize the good in “good writers group.” Part of their job is finding the strengths in your writing and telling you about it. Just as we can’t see the weaker parts of our writing, we often can’t see the good parts either. If we can figure out what we do well, we can do it more often. For example, my group gave me an example in one of my chapters of a description I did very well and of one I didn’t do so well. I was able to study the difference and figure out what I should do when writing descriptions.

A good writers group encourages you to write. Discouragement is part of the business, and I think that when we’re writers who aren’t published yet it would be oh-so-easy to never be published simply because we don’t write. If we were to write our book when we “have time,” it wouldn’t happen. Having a writers group gives us a deadline to work towards, a reason to get something down on paper.

While it’s true that some authors were published without ever having a writers group (like Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series), I’ve talked to so many published authors who did and still do have them. A good writers group can strengthen your writing and help you on your road to publication.

Next week: Writers Groups, Part 2: What to think about when forming one

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About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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8 Responses to Writers Groups, Part 1: Why writers need one

  1. Cherylynne says:

    Also, a good writer’s group will join together to form an intervention when you REALLY get stuck. And when that doesn’t help, they will lock you in a deadline closet all day. Which is what Chersti is going to do to me today. 🙂

  2. Yes, I can vouch for the awesomeness of your critique group! (Even though I fell asleep during your discussions last week. My bad.)
    I think my favorite thing about your group is that you all have fun together! It makes me feel much more welcome, even though I’m not a participant.

  3. Chersti says:

    Beware the deadline closet…

  4. LCD says:

    Will you be making a post on how to find a writers group?

  5. lorithatcher says:

    I enjoyed this piece. I love when my writer’s group looks at me with confusion or dread when I read some sentance or paragraph that I thought was “oh so clever.” It helps give me the strength to chop it out even if I feel I have a lot invested in it.

    • Thanks for your comment! There’s always a bit of sadness when I realize that I have to cut out those “oh so clever” parts. But you’re so right–having a group you trust definitely makes it easier to cut it knowing that they’re probably right. 🙂

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