Sure, there are times when you may work in a group to get some writing done – whether that’s for ideas or actually scribing and contributing or something else entirely doesn’t matter – but for the most part, writing is seen as a solo activity. This is something most writers accept, we know we’ll be sat in front of a screen or notepad for long periods of time, probably with plenty of snacks, coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes or whatever other vice we succumb to.
There are times, however, that we could use outside help. Getting a fresh pair of eyes to look over our work can help us find the most obvious mistakes, as well as the most hidden problems.
You can look at the same sheet of paper or page of text all you want, but chances are you’re going to miss something. I’ve always found that unless I’ve given myself enough of a break between edits and redrafts, I can’t spot the mistakes that are glaringly obvious all the time. Fresh eyes can help, and for those times when you don’t have time to wait, other people are a great choice if you trust their editing skills.
I know a fair few writers now, thanks to social media platforms such as Twitter and, of course, my university course, where I met a great number of talented writers. Thanks to them, I was able to grow a lot. It took a while to get the brutally honest feedback I like, but it proved invaluable when it arrived.
I’m always welcome to this criticism for my work. It helps me grow but it has to be positive and constructive, otherwise it’s just someone attacking you (or your work) with no benefit. This is a fine line for some people and this is why writing groups are useful.
I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a number of writing groups over the years. Some have been great, others haven’t been as worthwhile. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as putting in what you want to get out as you’re relying on others but if you find a good group of people, even if you don’t see each often or in person, then you’ll get more honest feedback – and that’s key.
Most writers I’ve met have some form of ego – that’s not a bad thing, we need it. To be successful, we’re going to receive a lot of rejection and criticism and it won’t all be positive. That ego will help us keep going but it’s important to keep it in check and use it to help ourselves and other writers, not act superior to others and put them down. If you find a writing group that does that, then walk away and find another.
These groups can help you meet people, you’ll gain inspiration and grow as a writer and a person. They’re not to be missed and the thing is, they’re everywhere! They’re hard to find but once you do find them, you’ll see the benefits very quickly.
My big tip; try not to be shy about your work – we’ve all been there.
Other resources to consider
There are two great resources that I’d like to share with you guys.
The first is Writers & Artists, which has a number of services that can be of assistance should you want to make use of them. If you don’t, or the money isn’t there, then there is a fantastic community with regular blogs and articles that can help you get the most out of your writing. These are both informative and enjoyable and will give you an idea of what to look out for from real writers who have been or are in similar situations. Joining the community lets you answer questions, share experiences and help others too. Finally, they run fantastic competitions which are always worth checking back with.
The next resources is one I’ve only discovered fairly recently, so I’m still exploring it’s features and getting to know it better but what I’ve seen is very interesting! It was recommended to me by a recent Twitter acquaintance so I’m passing it on.
It’s called WritersCafé and is another community that is great for getting feedback on your work. You can post full pieces or snippets at various stages, include notes and allow others to review it and offer suggestions and feedback. These people don’t (or will rarely) know you so you can expect honest feedback and by doing the same, you can improve your skills in this area and meet new people. It’s a win-win all around.
Hope these can be of some help to you, guys!