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On Writers Groups

The following is contributed by Judy O’Neill, Past President of the Oregon Writers Colony (www.oregonwriterscolony.org) :

What are the advantages of writer’s groups?

All writer’s groups provide support and socialization for people engaged in an essentially solitary activity with the advantage of providing contact with interesting people who differ from each other in every aspect except a shared passion. Goal setting can be built into any kind of writer’s group meeting.

With the right members, a critique group can speed up the craft learning curve. Having another person, if they have a certain level of skill, read your work provides a perspective which is difficult to accomplish alone.  This is particularly helpful when a writer is a beginner although many published writers continue to participate in a critique group. Making a commitment to provide work to a group on a regular basis provides automatic goal-setting which can increase a writer’s output. Reading other people’s work and learning to evaluate and critique what they wrote teaches craft.  (There are dangers in critique groups also, but that’s another subject.)

A writing support group can take the form of people getting together to write without sharing their work. There is energy in a room with several people writing. These groups help a writer focus if that’s a problem in their home environment.

Along with the general advantages of hanging out with writers, a writing study group provides the setting to discuss writing, a subject which bores non-writers (and even some writers) to tears. A study group also provides school-like opportunities and motivation for independent study.

There are “professional” groups for writers that cater to people learning the craft, examples being, Oregon Writers Colony, Willamette Writers and Writers’ Dojo. There are members of these groups who are published, but the activities these groups sponsor appeal to writers in training who want to get published. These groups put together conferences that provide opportunities to listen to and meet with agents and editors. They provide craft workshops and opportunities to retreat with other writers. Oregon Writers Colony and Wolf Trap provide writers a place to go.

There are professional groups for writers who have published.  Some of them include authors who have published in specific genres such as Romance Writers of America. Some of these groups have overweening agendas such as monitoring copyright protection laws and making sure that authors get paid for their work that appears on line.  All of them have conferences providing authors with the opportunity to network with their fellow authors and with agents, editors, and publishers. In general, membership in these groups provides opportunities for an author to further an existing career.

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