The older I get, and the longer I write, the more convinced I become that writer’s groups are an essential component of a writer’s life, success, and mental well-being. Why?
-1- Writer’s groups provide a sense of community, of belonging. Although my professional background has always been in sales and marketing, I have never felt comfortable in large crowds of people (unless I was teaching). Until I walked into my first writer’s meeting in Boston in the late 1980s. There’s nothing that compares to being in a roomful of other creative people. When I’m with other writers, even those I don’t know, I no longer feel just a step out of sync with everyone.
-2- Writer’s groups offer a wealth of information you can’t get anywhere else. Not only do the members of writer’s groups provide you with objective, factual information about the craft of writing and the publishing world, they share their personal impressions and perceptions. Let’s face it, little about storytelling and writing is set in stone. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and preferences. But listening to divergent opinions and insights, and blending the ingredients into a recipe that works for you, is an essential element of growth as a writer.
-3- Finally, writer’s groups provide inspiration and motivation, propelling you on to accomplish great things. Why? Because they hold you accountable. If you’re a member of a writer’s group, you keep writing. And that’s the most important benefit of all. I don’t care what you write, so long as you write, you’ll get where you need to be.
The first book I completed was [what I considered] a romance. A couple of mystery publishers agreed. Unfortunately, the romance publishers thought it was more of a mystery. Despite my confusion, and disappointment, I kept writing.Why? Because. It’s just something I do.
I wrote chapters that never saw daylight. I began writing magazine articles. And a business newspaper column. I wrote short stories. I journaled.
Eventually, I wrote and published a mystery novel and a non-fiction business book. Then I began writing continuing education (CE) courses in the insurance industry (where I worked my “day” job). Then, I was recruited to write insurance CE textbooks for multiple national CE providers/publishers.
My goal was always to be a published writer who supports herself with her writing. Be careful what you ask for, kids, because you just might get it! Seven years ago, I realized my dream, and began making more money than I ever had. I SHOULD have asked to be a published fiction writer who supports herself with her writing and hits the bestseller list over and over…
Anyway, I now find myself in a position where I whittled my client list down to two, and I spend part of my day writing insurance stuff. I know most people find it boring, but I love it. I spend the rest of my day writing fiction. In fact, right now, I have a fiction novel (the first in a series) on the desks of both an agent and an editor–both of whom I met at a writer’s conference in April!
Only time will tell if I ever hit the best seller list, but I’m writing. And getting paid for it. And working from home without having to wear makeup, a suit, or–thank God!–pantyhose.
You can write your own version of what I consider my success story. Please, join a writer’s group. Write. Stick with it. Your hard work will pay off.
P.S. I’m a member of both the national and regional chapters of the following organizations: Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. And here is a link to lots of other writer’s organizations.