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Small writing group input?

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  • #120850
    Hope Ann
    @hope-ann

    This week’s question is from Mallory, and one I’ve gotten from several authors.

    I was wondering, how do you go about finding or setting up your own more intimate group of writers?

    Large groups can be very overwhelming, but small groups can be constraining if the writers don’t share much in common with each other.

    How do you get together with writers you can relate to, and help one another?

    Victory in the march. Hope in the destination.

    #120987
    DeepRun
    @deeprun

    @hope-ann

    Approaching developing a group with the a good mindset helps. It’s about giving and receiving. Coming at this from the perspective of small group development, it also helps to bear in mind that there are a few factors that help a group form and stay together.

    1. Have a defined and shared purpose.  A clear goal gets you somewhere.  Wandering aimlessly does have it’s place but isn’t always recommended.  With a group especially.  So within the context of a writing group, define parameters and have a roadmap.  I.e. As a group, we’ll commit to reading and critiquing this much of this member’s manuscript in this time frame.   Or, We will dialogue about these issues in writing for this week.  AND always revisiting and tweaking the goals as necessary.  Life happens.  A lot.

    2. Have a leader.  Not an authoritarian dictator wielding world crushing power.  Someone who steps up and says, let’s go this way.  Kindly and with good reasons.  My personal conviction is that a lot of well intentioned groups fail because there isn’t a defined leader or chain of command.  It can be done in a loving and gracious way that allows you to carry out the goals that were previously defined.  It gives credence to your goals and helps carry them through.  While you can throw blunt spears, you won’t achieve much.  Having someone “spearhead” things makes it possible for the group to really achieve some things and slay some manuscripts.

    3. Disagreements do not equal disfunction.  Quite the converse.  Groups cycle through different stages (forming, storming, norming, and performing) and it’s a sign that you’re getting somewhere.  If everyone agrees and praises each other and is always hunky dory and there is no conflict at all, it usually indicates stagnation.  Growth is painful.  And beautiful things come from painful stuff if you can hang on.  It’s worth the disagreements to work it out.  This is also where having a leader helps.

    4. Critique is an art. Bearing in mind that growth usually is painful, critique, helping others grow, is the same.  There are some great articles on SE about how to critique and do it well and so on and so forth so I won’t elaborate.  Other than it can downright hurt sometimes but that leads into the next point.

    5. Honesty and shared experience, can beget genuine fellowship. Within that tricky art of critique, if you can hang with it and be lovingly honest, some incredible fellowship can bloom.  Especially in a group of Christian writers.  They’ll know we are Christians by our love.  True love…  That is honest and brave enough to say the hard things but not in a way to cut or maim; but to help others step forward and grow.  Say the hard things in love.  Be willing to hear the same.

    6. Know your limits and respect those of others. This is kind of a no brainer but it’s really easy when you’re forming a group or even thinking about to shoot for the moon. We’ll read and critique 20k a week!  Maybe just trying to get into orbit is the first step.  Hey, let’s take two weeks to read this short story, critique and see where we’re at.  It’s ridiculously easy to get behind in reading and critiquing. I’ve no idea why but it’s a bugger to dig yourself out of the hole.  Avoiding them and being aware of your own limits and …

    7. ASK for WHAT you WANT and NEED.  <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>It’s not a sin to ask, nor is it to want.</span>  It is sometimes hard to respect the boundaries of others and to be honest about your own. Yet again, working through that conflict pushes your group ahead to next level. Great things are born out of that honesty.  For you and the others in your group.

    Those are more of the philosophical approach that I’ve analyzed on being a part of a writing group.  Yet, I think it helps to have an idea of what works and what might not before launching into it.

     

    I’ve found that SE is a great place to drum up fellow writers who are like minded enough to share the same purpose but their differences contrast enough to provide growth and wonderful critique.

    You do not have a soul. You have a body.
    You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

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