I recently helped create a Writers’ Accountability Group—that is exactly how we named it. As deadline day loomed for publication of this column, I thought more about writers’ groups and communities; what makes them tick and why they are so important.
Let us begin, like civilised human beings, from the top, eh? What do they say of finders? They are usually keepers! What of brothers, I think they make better keepers than finders and the truths we will explore in this article will remind us why that resonates more emphatically among writers.
You see, when I found that I had a knack for putting thoughts together into words to share my inner voice, I would write, first to show I also could, then later as inspired by a random muse. I was the finder who should have kept, and, for the most part, I did.
By some fortuitous stroke, I encountered other people just like myself who had the gift of fencing with the pen. If indeed the pen was a sword, I could be pardoned for carrying myself with the important air of a Samurai. In the midst of the community of my sword brethren, I knew what I was to be not a keeper only of my gift and myself, but also that of my brother.
This could be the part where I now talk about the advantages of writing communities to writers, and I will, but before I do want to touch on some of the boxes a writing community should check to be successful. This is far from an exhaustive list, but if you want to start a writing group—which I will not do unless absolutely necessitated by the absence of an existing one—, then these might be helpful.
- ADDRESS A NEED; HELP PEOPLE
This is basic if you ask me. Every organisation exists to fulfil set goals. Do you want to be a general writers’ group that welcomes all writers, or do you wish to help bridge the gap from just being “good writers” to published authors? The group could even be all about honing craft and developing writing voice. The possibilities abound, but one thing remains constant; your group must help writers
- BE CONSISTENT
This is a niggly one. The curse of creatives is inconsistency. Writers like to write when they feel that feeling. Mess with our mojo and we are likely to hit a roadblock.
For the group to be successful, you should know that certain things are non-negotiable. If you are going to meet at intervals, let that remain constant. If you have a time to start sessions, that should be unchanged. Be loath to extend deadlines for agreed upon tasks as this only makes people more comfortable in their comfortably inconstant cocoon.
- THROW PARTIES
Yep, find yourself favouring a frequent fiesta to foster fraternity in your group. I have seen first-hand the wonders food can do among writers, and I think it was revealed to Chuck Palahnuik in realms beyond flesh and blood when he said, “Use writing as your excuse to throw a party each week — even if you call that party a workshop.”
Now then, what are some of the rewards for enduring the presence of other writers from all walks of life with different levels of skill and success? If it is not already obvious then allow me to show you.
- CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK.
Human beings tend to focus on flaws-theirs and those of others. The thing about writing communities is that they make all the best use of this and minimise the negative connotations tailing it. By analyzing someone else’s work, you see mistakes you are likely to be making yourself. In addition, whatever facet of reviewing skill you use helps to sharpen you in that area.
Now what about the person whose work is being critiqued? Of course, no one likes to have their work scrutinised and called out for inadequacies, but many lessons are learned, and it is easier in the midst of the “family”, especially when you can see the truth in what they say
- SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT
As a writer you need a support system; a family of people to readily encourage uplift and support you. That is what you get exclusively from your writing communities.
- ENABLES YOU TO ACHIEVE YOUR WRITING GOALS
When your excitement begins to fade, when you lose interest, or when you have just slammed into writer’s block, the atmosphere of writers sharing their insights, processes, challenges and triumphs will help you make it through to achieving your goals too.
So there you have it, find yourself a writers’ group/club right now and you will see for yourself the veracity of my words. If you cannot find one, you could always form yours — expect it to be tough.
credits: masterclass.com, thinkwritten.com, goinswriter.com
Shelter S Akator