No writing groups for me!

(This is Annie again, by the way!  I’ll give my reaction to her views after I’ve heard what she has to say, but this is her reaction to writing groups).

Writing groups? Pah, don’t make me laugh.  A bunch of pretentious wannabe writers sitting around preening themselves, desperate to be recognised as the next J.K. Rowling, while continually patting each other on the back to say how clever they are.  No, I know I’ve never attended a writing group, but I’m sure that’s what they are.

I’ve written fanfiction, and some of the stories I’ve read in that genre are badly written teenage rubbish, with lots of “ooh you’re so clever!” reviews attached to them, no discrimination at all.  No effort to improve, no attempt to give helpful feedback, just mutual admiration.

I’d love to be part of a group that’s supportive but also critical, that works as a team to improve everyone’s writing, where a writer can feel sure that their writing will be taken thoughtfully and helpful, useful advice will be given, by other writers who are also eager to improve.  But that only exists in my mind, right?

I did a writing course once, one of these “we guarantee you’ll have made your fee back in sales by the end of the course or we’ll give you your money back” courses. It was all commercially orientated, towards writing that sells, rather than writing that comes from the heart – examine your target market, plot carefully, study the published short stories to see what they have, write and submit, write and submit.  I didn’t get very far, because it wasn’t the sort of writing I wanted to do.

I tried the open university creative writing course, and yeah, I suppose that wasn’t too bad – when I made the time to write I could feel that it helped – but my father died halfway through (it was a very short course) and the second and final assignment was due just after the funeral.  So that fell by the wayside too.

Part of the trouble is that I’m sure nobody would appreciate my writing.  They would all too busy pointing out the flaws in it.  No-one wants to buy it, because the stories I was being pushed to submit were not the sort of stories I want to write.  Not that I’ve ever tried that hard.  I’m not sure whether I’m more worried about trying and failing or trying and succeeding.  You see, I know I could do it if I really tried.  But why bother?  My stories are enough to keep me entertained, and I don’t have time to write them for others, let alone attend a group where I’m expected to write to order and then study other people’s writing as well!

Actually, I quite like looking at other people’s writing semi-critically, working out what works and what doesn’t.  Almost better than I like writing myself.  But still, no writing groups for me!  Heaven forbid, I might just meet some people who are supportive and interested in my work, and then I’d feel obliged to live up to that.  And I don’t have time for that sort of nonsense.  Or I’d find people who want the pats on the back rather than honest, supportive opinions.  And that would be more than pointless.

Please note, that was Annie’s opinion.  Having heard what she has to say, I can only say to her that she’s using every excuse in the book to reject this without even trying it, doing her usual trick of condemning before others get a chance to condemn her.  I’d really like to hear the views of others on writing groups – are you a part of one? does it help?  Is there too much “nicety”, with everyone afraid to give honest opinions?  Is there too much nastiness, with people being too brutal with their opinions and knocking others back?

I think I’m also influenced by when I worked in a print shop, where I would have one or two writers come in to copy their contributions to the local writers’ group.  Maybe one or two of them were so pretentious they put me off writers’ groups for life.  I suspect that in reality there are many different types of writers’ groups, and it’s a matter of trying them until you find one that suits you.  Which, again, I don’t have time for at the moment.  Don’t have time for anything but work.  Desperately need more than just work in my life.  Help, my brain hurts!

Maybe it’s worth looking into?

 

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3 Comments

  1. I’m a member of 2 very different writing groups and I have to say I love BOTH of them 🙂

    Xx

    Reply
  2. I am a member of a writing group but we made a decision, from the outset, to be informal. Instead of feeling obliged to have ‘something written’ in time for our meetings, we discuss whatever happens to be relevant to us at the time.

    Our group is really just a collection of people who love writing, and get together to share the joy and the madness that non-writers could never understand.

    Reply
    • The writing group I did eventually join is good – it’s always fascinating to hear other opinions on writing submitted, and we end up with a good natter. We don’t have to submit every time. And of course nano write-ins were fantastic!

      Reply

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