Types of Writers and 10 Tips For Joining A Writer’s Group

I’ve heard myths of writers who produce amazing works from within a vacuum.

Writing can be very solitary work. You, the keyboard, and the depths of your imagination. It’s easy to feel like you’re locked away from the world (or perhaps escaping from the world) while you craft the story you want to tell.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

In this day and age, writing groups are all around us. Even if you live in the middle of no where, as long as you have semi-regular access to the internet, you can find people on their journey to become a writer.

The Many Types Of Writers You Can Find

  • You can find the dreamers, who dream of becoming an author, with their whirl of ideas–struggling to find the time or fearing the reality won’t be as great as the novel in their heads.
  • You can find the beginners. The ones who’ve written a few chapters, who are fiddling with their plots or their characters or their world. They tinker and craft based on inspiration and their own motivations. They’re learning the discipline it takes to finish their story, to fight the duel masters of perfectionism and completism.
  • Next are the amateurs. The ones who’ve finished a story or ten, who’ve started querying agents and publishers, and have been through the editing doldrums. They’re getting the hang of the hours and dedication it takes. They’re journeymen on their way to mastering the craft.
  • You can find the debut authors: some self-published, some hustling with their small publisher, some with the fabled traditional publishers, all dealing with the modern publishing world and learning the marketing tricks and tribulations on the road to making a name for themselves.
  • You can find the established authors, the ones who, if they’re very good or very lucky, are able to make this their day job. They’ve practiced their craft and know what works for them.
  • And then? Then, there are the run-away successes — the ones who got rich and who have fans like a world-class athlete or actor — the ones everyone hopes to become. Most of us know it’s a pipe dream, but hard work, talent, and luck can combine to make it happen — why not for me?

Do you know where you can find all of these people? Online! In libraries! In classes! A coffee shops! At Cons! Doing NaNoWriMo! Not all of these places, not all of the time, but some of the people, some of the time.

There are hundreds of groups for writers at EVERY stage of their career.

  • A good level of group to join is the one that’s half-a-step ahead of you. They’ll push you, challenge you, and encourage you to grow. They’ll be there to help you answer plot questions, or editing questions, or pacing questions to the best of their abilities.
  • Having a support group at the same stage you are gives you a sense of not-being-alone. Knowing you aren’t the only one with these struggles can be reassuring.
  • Having a mentor a stage or two ahead of you is great, if you can find one. Writers tend to be friendly and encouraging so don’t be afraid to ask. (DO take no for an answer, you know how hard it is to find the time to work on your OWN projects)

Personally, I help run 2 facebook groups, help administrate another, and am just a member in 2 others, I’m a member of several twitter lists/groups, have this blog–and follow many others, made a google circle group, have a tumblr, an instagram, and a pinterest. I saw a few reddit groups when I followed a tweet this afternoon. (Can you tell I’m not exclusively an introvert…)

No matter where you want to hang out on the internet, there’s a group there.

It’s not enough to join a group though, you need to be the type of person people WANT in their group.

How To Get The Most Out Of A Writing Group

  1. Spend a session (for in person) or couple days (for online) listening. Find out the group dynamics, read the linked resources (if any), get a sense for if your writing style and critique/support style are right for the group.
    • Are they all super encouraging, while you like to analyze every word? This might be the wrong group.
    • Are they in your genre? A non-fiction group or women’s lit group is probably going to follow different rules/tropes than a science fiction story. It’s good to learn about other genre’s, but if you don’t feel they have the knowledge to properly critique your story, you’re going to ignore their feedback.
  2. Follow the group’s rules
    • Take the time to ask if they have any, read them, and see how they enforce them.
    • If you have questions, ask. If you’re still not sure, don’t.
    • Even if there isn’t a rule, if you think people might think it’s wrong, DON’T DO IT.
      • Yes, sometimes writing deals with tough issues and situations. Bad things happen to good AND to bad people. If you want to share a writing question or sample that contains questionable things, make it an opt-in situation, not an opt-out one, with a fair warning.
  3. Be supportive
    • You don’t have to flatter everything you read. But be positive where you can.
    • If you hate something, you can simply say that style’s not for you.
    • If you feel someone’s work has a long way to go, try to offer high level advice, don’t delve into every issue you see.
  4. Contribute more than just your work
    • Don’t be the person who always asks for edits/critiques, but never gives feedback on other people’s work.
    • If you say you’ll read something, do so in a timely manner — or send your apologies and bow out, don’t just leave them hanging.
    • Remember, reading other people’s works-in-progress helps teach you how to see those issues — and fix them — in your own work. Reading only published work and your own stuff can blind you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, though!
    • You joined this group to help with your writing! If you find yourself spending all your time helping others, or feel your questions are foolish… this might be the wrong group for you. Or, you might need to step back for a bit, to focus on your own work.
    • It can be very hard to share your own work. So much time and effort has gone into it. But, you have to start somewhere. If you’ve found the right group, then take a deep breath and just go for it!
  6. Take advice respectfully
    • Edits/critiques/etc can hurt, they can crush you. If you think you might be reaching your breaking point, you can ask them to stop.
      • “I think you’ve given me plenty to think about, let’s stop there for now.”
        • You can say this if you think they’re right, wrong, or so wrong they’re right. You can say this if you think they’re picking on you. You can say this if you plan on burning an effigy of them with all their criticism on it. It’s honest, it’s polite, and it should end the advice there.
      • If you can shut down comment threads? Make a note like above and do-so.
    • My standard take on critiques is 1/3rd are easy fixes/clarifications, 1/3rd illustrate how badly the other person misunderstands your world/setting/characters, and 1/3rd are those deep-routed issues that you’d patched over and hoped would go away.
      • Yes, these percentages can change, but give it a few days, reread the critique if it’s not total garbage, and think it over.
  7. They are NOT there for you to market to
    • Yes, they want to celebrate your successes (I’d hope!)
    • Yes, networking with other writers can be amazing for your career
      • But remember to treat them as people, not contacts! No one wants to be used. You should be looking to make friends, NOT setting up career moves
    • Yes, you can share your books/blogs/other products
    • BUT! Make sure it’s a 7 to 1 ratio at least — contribute and support more than you sell.
  8. Take a break if you need one
    • Burn out happens, emotions happen — if your group starts to feel like drama or work, it’s okay to take a step back. Just don’t flounce.
      • “flouce” – – To leave an internet group or thread with exaggerated drama; deleting posts, notifying mods and or group users, and cross-posting on other groups to draw attention to the drama.*
  9. Shop around
    • You don’t have to commit to the first group you join. They may be wonderful people, they may be brilliant amazing contacts, but if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to stay.
    • You can join more than one group:
      • One for the support and cookies
      • One for the critiques
      • One for the querying tips
    • Remember why you joined the group — to grow as a writer. If you feel like you’re not growing, if you’ve stagnated or dynamics have changed, you can move on.
  10. Be gracious
    • The writing community is small and people talk, people remember. Make sure they remember you for the right reasons.
    • The internet is forever, people can screenshot, reshare, reblog anything. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to come back and haunt you.
    • The world can be cruel, why not be the kindness you want to see in the world. If it’s got to start somewhere, why not with you?

kindness


Where are you in this journey?

*  Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Flounce  May, 3rd 2017

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7 thoughts on “Types of Writers and 10 Tips For Joining A Writer’s Group

  1. “My standard take on critiques is 1/3rd are easy fixes/clarifications, 1/3rd illustrate how badly the other person misunderstands your world/setting/characters, and 1/3rd are those deep-routed issues that you’d patched over and hoped would go away.” Love that! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love my local Writer’s group and so thankful to have found them. We’re an eclectic group of authors and wanna be’s writing in many different genres. I’m finding the variety really helps widen my own vision of my work specifically during critique as what one person doesn’t see, another does. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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