‘Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.’
− Stephen King
In my newsletter last week, I wrote about how being a part of a writers’ group has been a godsend.
Aside from taking home the first draft of my novel, the greatest souvenir I brought back from last year’s Daily Love Writers’ Mastermind retreat in Bali, is my writers’ group.
Writers’ groups come in all shapes and sizes, but here’s how ours works:
Our group is made up of six writers from our Bali writing retreat. We get together every Sunday morning via teleconference (phone hook-up) and share where we’re at with our writing.
Janna Peterson is a member of our group and a good friend. I asked Janna why she loves our group and weekly calls. She answered:
‘I would have to say the best thing about having a writers’ group would be the MOTIVATION to keep on going. Just when I die down, I get re-ignited to keep on burning. It is the fuel for your fire. The more you hear about what others are up to, the more you stay encouraged to keep at it. But it’s also about COMMUNITY. Life is full of ups and downs and when you have those downs, a soft landing is essential. And when life is up, you want them to JUMP with you! That’s our group.’ − Janna Peterson
Here are six reasons why I think joining a writers’ group is a great idea:
1. Writing accountability.
Our regular calls have a way of keeping me accountable to my own writing goals. It’s not that my group run through a checklist of things I committed to delivering writing-wise.
It’s more than showing up each week. Taking your turn to share how your writing’s going naturally makes you accountable. How fun is it to tell a group of writers each week that you haven’t written anything?
What’s more, you’re accountable as a group, with others who absolutely share the experience of trying to write around work, family and a million-and-one commitments. You’re accountable to other writers who know how damn hard it is.
One of the many benefits of our writers’ group, albeit a surprise one, is that it has help me zero in on what really matters to me.
In particular, the calls where I shared that I wasn’t writing, or was struggling with finding the time and balancing competing work-life-family-health demands (insert other excuses here) prompted me to reflect and examine on how I can better manage my days to make space for writing.
Simply hearing my own repetitive resistance each call was enough to spark clarity on how I was getting in my own way creatively.
3. Creative courage.
Our regular calls over the past few months helped me gain clarity around where I want to be in my business. This led to a huge change in the way I work so I can refocus on my writing. And this change was quite a bold move for me.
Over the past few months I took some fairly gutsy steps (for me at least) and changed my business. I’ve cut back on my content creation and editing services, so I can write more and focus on my draft novel.
Without in-depth conversations with my writers’ group, and some patient listening on their behalf, I might not have realised this was what I needed.
4. Your own personal cheer squad.
In our get-togethers we don’t just talk about writing.
We talk about what’s going on for us in life – friends, work, family, travel plans, surprises. Our group goes above and beyond the challenges of writing, and offers us all a space to connect, support and encourage.
I’m so proud of the women in my group who’re from all different stages and walks of life, and all striving to live more creatively, authentically and courageously – whether that’s climbing a mountain, booking an extended holiday, submitting novels for publication or launching a new business.
5. The gift of feedback.
Writers’ groups are a space to get feedback on your written work. Not every group functions in the same way, but when someone in our group wants some advice, guidance or a friendly read of their writing, we all read the pages and send back notes. It’s quite a special thing to have a supportive space to share your work.
New writers, blogs, philosophies and more have come into my life because of my writers’ group. There’s never a shortage of suggestions, points of view or helpful resources in our calls. I love how this has expanded my life, with everything from meditation apps, to recipes, to podcasts and places to visit.
No matter what’s going on, our group can recommend a website, a blog post or a writer who might help.
If a creative cheer squad is something you’d like in your life, please do it.
Join a writing group, a book club or a memoir writing class.
Start now, where you are. Invite friends, colleagues or peers. Put word out there and see what comes back.
If you’ve found this post helpful, I’d love to know in the comments below.