5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Writers Group
By Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Branch President of the Waterloo-Wellington Canadian Authors Association
Being a writer can be tough when all of the creating you do happens in isolation. The best way to get out of your own head and grow as a writer is to join a writers group. Online or in person, a good writers group will help you improve your skill as well as introduce you to some fantastic opportunities.
With that said, here are five reasons why you should join a writers group:
1) Writing and Critiquing Circles
When writing starts to feel like a chore or you just can’t get yourself in the chair to get started, a writing circle can be the motivation you need. Guided by a long-time writer and in the company of others struggling to get words on the page, it can be what you need to get the words flowing again.
Or maybe you’re writing but it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. You can edit and rewrite a story a hundred times (trust me, I’ve been there) and still not get it right. You can feel it, something’s off, but you can’t see the problem anymore. This is where you need a good critique group to give you objective feedback. In learning to critique someone else’s work and receive (positive/constructive) criticism, you also learn to be more objective about your own writing.
2) Professional Development
Maybe you’re struggling with dialogue, or crafting solid plots, or convincing characters, or maybe you struggle with the business side of being a writer. A good writers group has you covered with online and in person professional development, from webinars to speaker series to workshops. Often, these are included in the cost of membership!
You’ll get great tips from professionals in your field and the opportunity to get some practise in as well. These events allow you to ask questions about craft and the business side of writing in a welcoming environment. And if there’s a writers conference in your area, it’s always worthwhile to check it out. Having so many writers and industry professionals in one place gives you prime opportunities to develop your skills.
If you’re a writer feeling confident about your craft, but not sure where to go with it next, or you’re a newbie brimming with questions, meeting with your peers gives you the opportunity to learn and grow. Some events even allow you to meet and chat with industry professionals like editors, agents, and publishers. Learn from the best on how to navigate the publishing industry.
National writers groups have the reach to promote you across the country. They’ll have member databases where you can showcase your skills, and awards eligibility to help get your work out there. Some even have programs to help you set up readings and speaking opportunities in branch cities beyond your own.
5) Health Benefits
A career in writing has numerous rewards, but if you’re a freelancer, health coverage can be scarce. National writers groups like the Canadian Authors Association offer group health insurance plans to members. Take care of yourself!
There are many more reasons to join a writers group, so check out ones near you, or consider joining an online group.
Vanessa is a word sorceress — a fantasy author and fiction editor — who loves a good story. She’s a NaNoWriMo veteran and a bookish geek who loves dragons, superheroes, astronomy, travel, and good tequila. She volunteers her time to two different writers groups: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where she is municipal liaison, and Canadian Authors Association where she is the branch president. To learn more, visit her website www.thodestool.com or follow her on Twitter at @VRicciThode.
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