The Value of a Writers’ Group

So I contacted the leader of my local writers’ group a while ago with the idea of joining them and improving my writing with some feedback. So far so good. Months passed and I forgot all about it. This morning I got an email asking me along to one of their meetings for a ‘trial’.

Which gives me a dilemma. I’m not terribly confident with my writing yet and they want me to read out an extract of about 1500 words! Help!

Several things leap to mind. Firstly: the thought of reading out something which I have written is really scary. It makes me feel really nervous just to think about it never mind how I’ll feel when I actually have to do it. Secondly: how do I decide what to read? Do I go with a short story or an extract from the novel? I guess if I want some constructive criticism of my writing I should choose part of the novel as this would be most useful. But the novel is the roughest of first drafts and I’m not sure it’s fir to see the light of day.

So what to do? There’s a bit of me that wants to duck out altogether but that won’t help to improve my writing one little bit. Also, if I can’t bear to read out my own writing why should anyone else want to read it? I need to get over this silly reluctance to share. If anyone has the magic bullet that will give me tons of confidence, let me know!

So this week it’s less about What I’m Writing and more about What I’ll Be Reading (with luck).


15 thoughts on “The Value of a Writers’ Group”

  1. A trial! Is that normal? Are these all published writer's because if not, I'm sorry, but who are they to judge whether your writing is good enough to join their group? I'm getting on my high horse here aren't I, but that just rings alarm bells for me.

  2. Read one of your pieces of writing that you really love. Imagine you are a listener at the group and how you'd like it read to you. The group could be an amazing resource – nothing ventured and all that. Good luck 🙂

  3. I'm viewing it like a job interview – I need to find out if it's the right group for me as much as they need to assess me. I know that some of them are published but I'm hoping that the whole 'trial' thing is more tongue in cheek than serious!

  4. I think it's great to be brave and go for it and get constructive feedback. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the idea of this 'trial' – are they assessing you to see if you're good enough? Because that sounds a bit strict? But if you're up for it then I reckon pick something you're confident about to read at the first meeting. There's time for constructive feedback of less polished pieces further down the line. Good luck! thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  5. Sounds like a plan… I've never had to do a trial to join a writing group, but then again, I get precious little useful feedback on my writing from my group (I'm hoping for more now I've had a chance to set up a smaller poetry circle). Feedback is difficult to deal with sometimes, but sometimes useful. I wish you all the best.

  6. Good idea Johanne to view the meeting as an opportunity for you to give them a 'trial' too. It's all about the fit. Anyway, whatever happens, it'll be a valuable experience. All the best, Marija x

  7. Sounds interesting. Since finding the #whatimwriting group, I've wondered about a local group of writers, but somehow that seems more scary to me. Wishing you luck for your adventure, and look forward to hearing about how you find it. #whatimwriting

  8. It sounds like a great opportunity to see if it's the group's a good fit for you – and viewing the 'trial' that way makes most sense to me! I'd say at this stage read something you're really proud of rather than something you feel is still a bit too rough around the edges – that should help with the confidence, and then you can build up to things you need more feedback on if it feels like a nice place to be! Good luck 🙂

  9. Read something that you feel shows off your writing well. I presume that it's a trial in the sense of seeing if you fit with the group. No point joining if they don't click with you or you with them, right?
    I tell my students (I teach EFL) to practice in front of a mirror at home when they have to give a speech in class. And that confidence is all about acting.
    Good luck and most of all have fun. I'm totally jealous, I'd love to join a writing group but I don't see that happening while I'm still in Japan.

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