Everything I read that talks about how to become a better writer suggests getting into a writers’ group. Get yourself a great circle of similar writers, good people who will read your stuff and give you feedback, who will share ideas about writing, who will learn along with you, side by side.
I always read that and think to myself, “Check.”
I’m really, really fortunate to be in a regular writers’ group that meets once a month. It’s just me and two other lovely, dedicated, gifted writers. We’ve been meeting for years now, and together we have all grown from three women who had a vague interest in writing into three authors who have created books, short stories, and poems. All three of us have big dreams, big projects on the go, and big plans for future writing world domination.
It’s absolutely true that I wouldn’t be the writer I am without them. Their honest critiques have made me a better writer, but it’s more than that – getting together with them to share what we’ve done, to announce, out loud, our goals for next month and next year and the next decade, has made me into a dreamer. I’ve created a whole writing life, and enthusiasm for being an author that gets renewed every month, through meeting with these lovely ladies.
They are Lee Ann Eckardt Smith, who’s written two books and who is putting out some awesome poetry on her blog these days, and Jennifer Roundell, who is just getting started online but who will be launching her really excellent YA series of mysteries for middle grades within the year.
You can’t have them. They’re mine. But I agree with all those articles – it’s the best thing you can do as an author.
I often wonder how you’re supposed to get such a great group if you don’t already have one. I met Lee Ann and Jen at a local get together for writers and we clicked, and decided to take things private. I’d say, look around for local writers’ groups you can join and hope to find kindred spirits. Take some classes and get some phone numbers of writers who seem to think like you. If you’re really introverted, there’s even places you can go online to build a critique circle.
But above all, get your writing out there. Get someone to read it. Get them to tell you all the things in it that need fixing, and then think about what they said, and try to fix them that feels right to you. Then lather, rinse, repeat.
I like to say that everything I write belongs just as much to Lee Ann and Jen as it does to me. They’re certainly a big part of my writing life. May you find your own Writing Circle to make you whole.