Please welcome Bob Sanchez as he offers tips about writing support.
The other day I was thinking about what to write for this post and remembered your Circle of Friends. We often think of writing as being a solitary pursuit, and rightly so, up to a point. When I started writing fiction in the late ’80s, it was just me and my Writer’s Digest instructor, who gave me a lot more attaboys than I remotely deserved. Had he been my only lifeline, I would have quickly quit. But then someone introduced me to a writers’ group that met at members’ homes twice monthly. That group still exists, and I stayed with it for 15 years until I moved away. They are a mix of published and unpublished fiction writers, all of whom are skilled and attentive listeners. Our chemistry certainly wouldn’t work with every group, and over the years we showed the door to several people who creeped out the women, never wrote anything, or otherwise didn’t fit in. Occasionally people left us because we were too social. We did socialize a lot at our meetings, but we always got down to business eventually. We’d sit in a circle of friends with our munchies and our notepads while people read usually 10-12 pages of a work in progress. In all that time we had no organization, and everyone was always treated equally. A couple of them—may I write this on your blog?—had well-honed b.s. detectors that tended to set off loud alarms when someone (usually yours truly) would read something outrageously dumb. Or a member might pipe up, “cliché alert!” and point out an overused phrase. Yet the critiques were kind, constructive, and honest, with an occasional dollop of teasing.
All three of my published novels (and my several unpublished ones) went through many Friday night sessions with this group. Sometimes we’d pick nits on each other’s work, but more commonly the comments had real substance that helped immensely with plot, character, setting, and tone. Often a member would privately agree to read and critique an entire draft, knowing that reciprocation would follow down the road. One of the best lessons I learned from my friends is the value of rewriting. Many a reading would start out with the person saying, “This is my third draft of this chapter.”
Finding such a group may not be practical, possible, or even desirable for you. But I’m convinced that most writers need someone. If you’d like to find an online group, consider the Internet Writing Workshop where I’ve been a member for years. It’s free to join, is well-run, and has a number of specialized critique groups.
What resources do you use for support? Face-to-face writers’ groups? Conferences? Online groups? Please share what works for you.
I hope you’ll visit all the great blogs on my tour. Please post a comment for a chance to win an ebook or signed paperback copy of one of my novels. And thanks for visiting!
Bob’s tour schedule
Background on Little Mountain
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