The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. — Roald Dahl
Writing is such a lonely task and slogging through a manuscript you’ve revised a thousand times can be downright painful. Add to this your busy schedule, and the unpredictability of normal life, and you’ve got a recipe for an unfinished manuscript. Often times, even your love for writing won’t be enough to keep you going.
This is where a writing group comes in handy.
My two writing partners and I can attest to that. Here, we answer various questions posed to us by curious writing friends who haven’t yet taken the plunge.
Why was this writing group created?
Nutschell: I was a writer who didn’t write. That realization struck me so hard that I resolved to do something about it. It didn’t matter that I had a full-time job, a non-profit organization to run, or volunteer work to do. I needed to make time for my writing, because nobody else can write my stories for me. I decided to form a weekly writing group with two of my co-workers — Chae and Lexi — and our Monday night writing sessions have definitely been a game-changer.
Lexi: I find it hard to write on my own time especially after a full day of work. It’s also good motivation when you have others counting on you to write with them.
Chae: It’s easy to convince yourself not to write when you are alone. So I joined a group to make it really difficult for me to say no to writing. And it worked!
What do you accomplish during your writing group sessions? Do you generate actual pages?
Nutschell: I usually finish a chapter of my middle grade novel. Two, if I’m feeling inspired. Sometimes when one of us hits a writing block, we take a quick brainstorming break. Being around other writers definitely keeps me motivated.
Lexi: I’m a little scattered when I write, but mainly I work on a story/novel I’ve been working on. Other times I’ll write poems or write down ideas for other projects. No matter what it is I choose to work on, I always feel like I’m accomplishing something by the end of our time together.
Chae: Breaking the story for a TV spec episode was the most time consuming part of my writing sessions. Thanks to the writing group, I was able to finish a polished outline and am ready to draft the script.
How has being part of this writing group helped your own writing?
Nutschell: As much as I’d love to be writing every day, duties and responsibilities have to come first. This writing group forces me to make time for my writing despite my busy schedule. Our Monday night writing sessions allow me to get a chapter or two done every week.
Lexi: Being a part of this group has definitely helped my own writing because we all bounce ideas off each other and offer feedback, and in the process of doing so you learn a lot about writing.
Chae: It’s made me accountable and consistent. I now make writing appointments and stick to them. Also it’s nice to have a sounding board for my ideas to help me stay on track.
Do you have any advice for writers out there who might want to form their own writing group?
Nutschell: Look for writer friends who live or work in the same area, and create a schedule. My writing partners and I all work in the same department, so it’s easy to make plans to meet up after work. Every Monday we meet at a nearby café, buy drinks, share a basket of fries and write for at least two hours. It’s a lot of fun to be around that kind of creative energy and we always get a lot of writing done.
Lexi: It’s quite simple really, just tell your friends you want to start writing at least once a week and ask them to join. Meeting at a local café where you can order French fries also helps.
Chae: Find people who have as much interest in writing as you do. Your collective passion will motivate you to do the hard work. And find a place that’s quiet and has lots of electric outlets.