I’m in a writing group and I must say, I’ve learned a great many things from it.
Writing groups are great because they allow you to see how your writing fares with a small section of the public, in a sense, and helps to increases your writing skills by regularly mingling with other authors.
A good group can help your writing tremendously.
I meet with a writing group two times a month. There are some regular members, like myself, and then there are newcomers who pop in and out looking for a group they feel is a right fit for them.
We submit a piece of work for the group to read and critique a week in advance, then we meet up and give each other face to face feedback on it. We bounce ideas off each other and farm advice on any and everything about writing from story concept to publishing.
Joining a writing group offers the chance to learn from other writers and its a good way to learn how to deal with rejection.
Mine is a good group and quite diverse. Not only from author ethnicity but, of course, writing styles and genres too. That is a double-edged sword but a sword nonetheless, and a great one at that.
On one side, being in a group of authors who all, or mostly, read and write what you don’t, gives you the opportunity to see how well your story goes over with someone who doesn’t read your genre, a fellow author at that. Other authors can be the harshest critics. The interaction gives birth to questions such as, are your characters still interesting, is the story still gripping despite its genre themes and specifications?
Is your story still gripping outside of its genre?
In other words, if you’re writing sic-fi, is the heart of the story, its core, still gripping if you strip away the sci-fi elements or does your writing lean too heavily, desperately so, on those elements? If you’re writing horror, is your story compelling without the horror elements? If so, I would imagine that would be great for your readers. Not only does your story have the genre elements they love, but the story itself is damn good too without them.
On the other side, because of the varied tastes of genres in the group, you might get dinged for something that the critic just doesn’t understand or has no taste for due to the genre. Someone who reads and writes YA Fantasy may not get into your Sci-Fi Erotica.
Yet, on another side, (i guess its more like a triple edged sword, ha), You may open someone’s mind to your genre, or you yourself, may realize that you like a genre you normally wouldn’t have given a chance to as a consumer.
Either way, having a diverse group definitely helps train you for surprising acceptance and crushing rejection. Discussing whatever the rejection is helps you learn how to validate a critique. Do they have a good point on something you may need to “fix”, craft fundamentals, or is it just their opinion, purely based on their personal tastes and preferences?
Ultimately, in many ways writing groups can strengthen your writing and expose you to things outside of your genre bubble and writing style. It can only make you a stronger writer overall.
Would you join a writing group? Are you a member of one already? If so, what have you learned from it?