With a little Help from my Friends – Reasons to join a Writers’ Group

When I first announced that I wanted to attend a writing group – as a participant not a facilitator – someone looked me blankly in the eye and asked ‘Why?’ There I was, the author of two novels, a long-serving and published freelance journalist, a writing coach, a writing group facilitator …?

But, since that question was asked, it hasn’t taken me long to think of six reasons why I should. A little more time and I could probably think of more.

So – here we go:

  1. As a working writer, you need beta readers. These informed non-professional ‘readers’ can tell in a flash what works and what doesn’t in a chunk of your work in progress (WIP).
  2. Reading aloud shows you the flaws in your own piece. When you run out of breath, for example, you know your sentence is too long.
  3. During tea-break, you have the stimulus of chatting to like-minded folk over a custard cream. Introverted writers can be lonely people. A writers’ group connects you to the human race.
  4. The writers’ group can set a standard, set the bar. You may be way above it but ‘Oh, how comforting!’ You may fall well below – in which case, try harder.
  5. The writers’ group – with their friends and family – make up a possible market. If you entertain them, they may remember your book when doing their Christmas shopping.
  6. A writers’ group is a pool of distilled wisdom and knowledge. One off-piste discussion at a writers’ group I attended recently embraced the funeral customs of Europe and how they differed. Inspiration for another piece of writing!

So, where do you find these wonderful groups of people? Local libraries, colleges and universities are sure to welcome you to their Continuing Education Creative Writing groups. Or, in the UK, contact the National Association of Writers’ Groups to find a group near you. In the rest of the English-speaking world, there are similar organisations. Personally, I belong to a U3A (University of the Third Age) group. This is an international organisation(see WorldU3A) and I wouldn’t be without them!

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About Elizabeth Gates

When I was four, I wrote my first story - mainly because no-one else had written the story I wanted to read. Later, with two degrees in English Language & Literature and Linguistics, I toured Europe as a creative writing tutor and then went on to work as a public health journalist for twenty-five years. Writing has always played a huge part in my life, coupled with history and travel. So my debut novel, The Wolf of Dalriada, seems a natural part of my progression through life. And when not writing, l like to spend time with my family and friends and the livestock that delights in trailing after me.