How Writing Groups Grow

IMG_1383My writing group has created a space where trust and friendship permeate every aspect of our work. It’s a creative family, a safe haven.

We troubleshoot character motivation and excavate plot holes; set goals and cheer each other on; and share manuscripts that represent years of hard work. We play hard. We geek out. I am enormously proud of my friends, so I can’t help but boast a bit about them. They have worked so hard to improve their work as they progress through outline after outline and draft after draft.

Starting a writing group is incredibly easy. At the beginning all it takes is some emails and a coffee shop. Then you ease into your dynamic, not forcing it to take any specific shape. You hang out, find your rhythm, and learn how much you can trust each other with your work. Some writing groups are casual. You don’t need to share all of your work with each other, and you don’t expect others to edit for you unless they specifically offer. You can share or hold back as much as you’re comfortable with. For a tighter writing group, trust is crucial because expectations are higher and critiques are more personal. It can take time to get there, so enjoy the process and keep exploring your community.

Writers need to stick together.





Trust and Expectations: Writing Group Essentials for a Manuscript Swap

DSC00663On July 1st, my writing girls came over and we swapped manuscripts. My 88k went to Jen, Liz’s 85k went to me, and Jen’s 27k went to both of us. Jen has been waiting to read the ending of my novel for about five years–so it’s about time!

One of the best attributes of a solid writing group is trust. We are vulnerable with each other in sharing plot points, story ideas, and raw drafts. Each group meeting is full of conversation and laughter, giving us a chance to feel out the dynamic. If we can trust each other in the smaller issues and critique in healthy ways, then bigger projects should be no big deal, right? Continue reading

The Visual Writer’s Writing Day


After publishing the last Friday Reflections post, I dove back into my novel. I settled into my study and shut the door on all other responsibilities. My Italian mask kept watch to deter distractions. Call me crazy, but I also went through the house and shut a few more doors for a clearer mental barrier between my novel and anything that threatened to press against the study door. Do you ever feel that connection between the physical and the mental? It’s a quirk as a visual and kinesthetic learner, I suppose.

Though my responsibilities eventually burst through the door, I was able to write 1.5k before they pulled me away. I settled in with my tea and sipped who knows how many cups of tea as I typed.  Maybe I go a little overboard with my tea, but I enjoy having some small, ritualistic break. I pour a new cup, stir in sugar and milk, and watch the steam rise.

DSC00511My novel is up to 72k and I’ll reach 80k by the end of the first draft. I wish I could say that I didn’t post on the blog last week because I was finishing my manuscript, but instead I was sick. Health returned around Good Friday, just in time for my writing group came over. Jen insisted that she be the first one to read my completed novel–no argument over here! She’s the most enthusiastic reader I’ve ever had. In order to get it to her decently soon, I’m aiming for these goals:

  • Outline last few scenes (done!)
  • Finish manuscript by May 1st (getting there!)
  • Get through two drafts by June 1st (Lord help!)

What goals do you have? If you’re stuck, what’s stopping you from charging through your story?