Joining a writer’s circle

I’ve been a writer for a long time. Probably longer than I care to admit.Yes, those early days when I drew comics based on Doctor Who stories I watched still counts! In that time I’ve had little support from anyone other than my immediate family.

Things changed when the Internet came on the scene (I realise I’ve made it sound like the Internet just walked in one day and said “Hi”). My early dabblings with any kind of writing community came when I discovered Critters.org, an online critique group. I learnt loads from this and even wrote an article about my experience. Reading other writers’ work and writing a critique is a perfect way to recognise faults in your own work, and getting critiques on your own stuff is the icing on the cake.

But, for one reason or another, I dropped out of the group. I think too many fantasy novels was putting me off, and having to write 3 critiques a week was seriously eating into my own writing time.

Google+ has most recently been a source of great support and feedback on the writing life. The Writer’s Discussion Group is an incredibly useful community on all aspects of the writing craft and I use it regularly. In this age of self-publishing and self-promoting, it’s full of clever, talented people, who’ve probably already tried what you’re thinking of doing. The one thing I would say is lacking is a social aspect. The group’s rules (that I agree with) are to only post items that will engage with the community. They don’t want people filling up the community with comments about what a crappy day they’re having writing.

And this leads to Twitter. The perfect place for any writing drivel to spew forth. Use the appropriate hashtags and you have the semblance of a pretty limited conversation with other writers. Maybe conversation isn’t right, it’s more like a peek into someone else’s stream of consciousness.

But none of this is exactly what I need right now. I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing on social media but the thing that’s ironically missing for me is that sense of social. Yes, I can engage with others, but the conversations are quick and focussed.

Southport Writer’s Circle has been on my mind for a couple of years. Off and on, I’ve considered turning up and attending a meeting but reading horror stories on the Internet about writing groups in general (the Internet is great for horror stories isn’t it?) has been enough to put me off. What if these people were all a bit weird (as opposed to me, who’s completely normal <ahem> ), what if they laughed at my attempts to write?

None of that actually happened when I went along last week. A smallish turnout with genuinely nice people who were all interested (or at least gave a great pretence of interest) in what I had to say, and were all passionate about writing. What I enjoyed most though, was the chance to talk about our writing experiences over a cup of coffee and biscuits. Something that is far harder to achieve over the Internet.

So, if you’re feeling like something might be missing in your writer’s life, take a look around and find a local group. There’s plenty of them, and you might just find a new support network.