Writing with a Group

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Writing may seem like a solitary sort of occupation, and indeed it is. While there are authors out there who frequently collaborate, for the most part it seems that we spend our time tapping away at keyboards all alone, even jealously guarding our work to hide it from prying eyes who might judge it before it’s ready.

But the thing is, humans are largely social animals. Even the most introverted of us likes to find others’ approval now and again, and it’s well known that we can accomplish a lot more when we put our heads together than when we all try to push forward alone.

What has that got to do with writing, exactly? Well, I’m not suggesting that four hands on a pen are better than one, nor that we should all write in teams of 104 and press only one key on a computer keyboard each. However, I’ve found it very helpful over the last year to have a group of people to talk to (via the internet, since I’ve been unable to attend any of our write-ins) about the writing process, and to bounce ideas off of. It’s also fascinating and often inspiring to hear about others’ experiences.

I found this group by way of joining my local region on the NaNoWriMo site, and was directed to an additional Facebook group. The collection of people I met there are diverse in a great many ways including race, age, gender and genre. Some of us are probably wealthier than others, though we don’t discuss that. Some are professional authors, others published (traditionally or through self-publishing) and still others completely undiscovered. There are people who’ve been writing since they could hold a crayon, and some who’ve never really attempted a story before. Everyone has equal say, everyone’s views are equally valid and appreciated, and none of us claim to know exactly what we’re doing.

When NaNo13 drew to a close, we couldn’t bear the thought of losing that community, that support network that would gladly tell us whether chapters were actually a necessity or advise us on where to find a beta reader when the time came. Indeed, many of us either beta each other’s work or read it in order to be among the first reviewers when it’s published, boosting publicity for our fellow writers. Besides, as great as it is to have the support of friends, family, and people reading blogs on the internet (that’s you – thanks), sometimes you need to talk to someone who’s also been tearing their hair out over plot points just so they can assure you you’re not completely insane.

We often join together for writing ‘sprints’, where we dedicate ourselves to just churning out words on our respective projects for a set time (twenty minutes is often a good little slot of time, though it varies) and see how far we can get. More recently, as several of us have finished the writing part of various projects, we’ve started doing editing sprints as well. And we’re all there to believe in each other, to make publication (for those of us who want it) seem less of an impossible dream and more of an achievable target.

What I’m saying here is that writing groups are awesome, and I don’t know what I’d do without mine. Thanks, gang.

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