What joining a writing group has done for me.

I struggled a bit with what to write for this, my inaugural blog post on our writing group’s website.  I’m certainly not what I would consider an accomplished writer, so I wondered what I could possibly have to offer our readers.  In the end, I decided to just write about my own struggles with the writing process, and hope that someone out there can relate and take away some comfort that they are not the only ones.

The writing group that I am now a part of does all of the things one would expect from a writing group.  We read and critique each other’s writing.  We discuss relevant writing topics, technique, editing, querying, publishing, etc.  We share what we’ve learned about the writing process and we talk through the writing problems that bog each of us down from time-to-time.  Our group is pretty well rounded, we each bring a little something different to the table, and I’ve gained a lot from being part of the group.  What was a little unexpected, was what I have come to value most about meeting with them: they keep me motivated and they keep me writing.

I realized a long time ago that I am a hopeless procrastinator, and not just with my writing, in every facet of my life.  I don’t like it, but I seem to work best with a looming deadline.  Before I became a part of this group, I struggled to motivate myself to write.  I would write in fits and starts, writing furiously for a few days, maybe even a few weeks and then nothing for months.  The paradox was that I thought about my characters and the stories I wanted to tell daily, usually many times a day.  I even kept copious notes on scenes, plot points, clothing styles, you name it and I probably have a note on it.  But I had the hardest time getting my butt in my seat and my fingers on the keyboard to actually write.  When I did write I routinely fell into the trap of rewriting the same first few chapters over and over again.  Consequently, I had piles of started stories but not even one finished draft.

I asked myself regularly if writing was really something I wanted to do.  I even talked myself into deleting everything I’d written several times, in an effort to just be done with it, but each time I was drawn back to the computer by the constant nagging from the characters within.  Eventually I realized that writing is a part of me, an itch that I must scratch.

The writing group has helped me deal with my daemons by providing me with a constant deadline to work toward.  Every second week I know that they are expecting a new submission from me.  Good or bad, short or long, it doesn’t matter I’m just expected to submit something new.  And that little word, new, is important.  Aside from a deadline, they keep me moving forward by encouraging me not to rewrite and resubmit the same old piece repeatedly.  There are no consequences if I don’t meet their deadlines, but my desire to not let them down has proven very powerful.

I write now more consistently than I ever have in the past.  Some days writing is still hard and I only scratch out a few words, other days I can knock out an entire chapter.  The important thing for me is that I’m moving forward.  I wish that I’d found them much earlier, I may have had a novel on the shelf of a real bookstore by now if I had.  Yes, I realize that that particular ship seems to be leaving port as we speak, but just maybe with my writing group’s help I can get a novel written, polished, read and sold before the brick and mortar stores are gone completely. That’s the dream anyway.

Motivation may not be your need and it probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think about the benefits of participating in a writing group, but for me it’s the greatest assistance they can give and I thank them for that.

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