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On Writing Groups

2012 March 21

A friend who recently moved to New York sent me and a couple of others an email with the subject line “Regarding the Creation of a Writing Group, Wherein We Meet and Drink and Talk about Things (that might be writing).” She has brought up the subject of forming a writing group on and off for a couple of months and I have nodded enthusiastically, saying “Sure, I’ll be in your writing group!”

Maybe I should have given this more thought.

The thing is, I love writing. I love to read it, I love to talk about it, I love to think about doing it. The act of doing it? Sure, it’s great, but getting me to sit down and do it is akin to asking me to scrub the floors of my apartment. In fact, there have definitely been a few times where I’ve chosen to clean rather than write. Okay, more than a few times.

If I love something so much, or at least profess to love it, then why don’t I do more of it? Honestly, the only thing I’ve been writing consistently for the past couple of years is this blog, emails,  reports for work, and book reviews. And I suppose all of that stuff counts, technically speaking. But the type of writing I want to be doing, and feel guilty for not doing, is of a decidedly more literary variety. Where are all those comic essays I joke about writing? What happens to those first sentences that never quite blossom into the short stories originally envisioned? How will I ever be published if I don’t have anything to actually submit?

So, back to the writing group. The premise of a writing group, at least as I understand it, never having been a member of one that successfully met more than once, is to present what you’re working on a to a group of peers you trust so that they can offer you their honest opinions, preferably over alcohol to soften the blows. I’ve joked that as a member, I will be happy to offer my “expert editorial experience” but I need to stop hiding behind my editing skills and actually write something. It might be terrible, but at least this would be a good venue to come to terms with that (with friends, and alcohol, as previously mentioned).

Basically, I don’t write because I’m afraid I’m not good at it and don’t have any good ideas. And we’ve all heard the adage “writers write” or some variation of that. How can I consider myself a writer if I don’t write anything? So, more than being just a fun way to talk about writing with friends, I’m approaching this as an opportunity to get over myself and just write stuff. It’s the perfect motivation. You can’t not write when someone is counting on you. Right….?

Does anyone have good tips for writing motivation? How do you make time for writing in your busy routines? Have you ever joined a writing group?


*You can buy the above necklace here. :) 

5 Responses Post a comment
  1. Rebekah permalink
    March 21, 2012

    for me what helps me “get writing” when I’m in a lull is to write in my private journal as much as possible. which basically means whatever I want to think about or concentrate on… I write a few paragraphs. as un-self-consciously as possible. no pressure, no one else is going to read it. then I start to get into the swing of things, of putting stuff into words again. then at some point I am usually able to identify what is important and interesting to me. then I’ll try to craft a story based on a certain interesting experience or emotion/set of emotions that I frequently had already recorded in my private journal. it’s a good exercise just to go back and read old journal entries and think, “there is a story in here somewhere, where is it?” and find one.

  2. Raquel permalink
    March 21, 2012

    Well, considering that my favorite adage is “Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting,” it’s no surprise that many of us word-lovers don’t write more! As in the writing we really want to be doing, for ourselves. Not writing for work or in emails or in a medium where we aren’t really expressing our truest, innermost selves. Writing that makes our hearts sing.

    I hide behind the editor card all the time. I know I am a good editor. But editing is such effortless work to me, like filing away a stack of papers in the proper folder. Easy peasy. In comparison, writing is like trying to perform your own appendectomy.

    Funny how something we love so much that can bring us such pleasure when we’re in the zone can be so goddamn painful to begin. The hardest part of writing for me is the beginning. Once I actually slog through the first few lines, it becomes pleasurable work and many times the sentences flow like I’m a woman possessed. But the anticipation of having to actually begin can induce in me sheer, physical panic.

    Being on deadline can often help me write. Any sense of accountability will motivate me because I hate letting others down. Right now I wish I had the balls to get some fiction writing done, but my well of ideas has seemingly dried up. I have one half-finished cliched novel-in-a-drawer I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit because I’m so tired of it and one novel-in-gestation that has been swirling in my head for years as just a few seemingly unconnected scraps. We shall see what comes of it. For now I’m going to just focus on narrative nonfiction in my blog, because I figure writing is writing. Keep the muscles toned for the day when you lift the heaviest block into place.

    I wish you luck and look forward to seeing what you write! I adore reading your blog and am so glad you wrote this entry, because I feel like I could have written it myself. It’s comforting to know that others share these feelings and maybe knowing there are many of us out there will be a good motivator!

  3. March 21, 2012

    What a cute necklace! Better be careful!

  4. Sandy permalink
    March 23, 2012

    Get a writer’s grant!

  5. March 24, 2012

    okay, as a total non-writer, can i just profess my undying respect for people who CAN write? i read constantly and fully appreciate the medium. (appreciate is a vast understatement – i need to read because i love it so much.) — however, i have zero creative writing skills, and can’t fathom how people do it. i actually think part of my love of reading is wrapped up in my fascination of authors. it’s like watching a contortionist – yeah, it’s entertaining, but part of the draw is attempting to imagine HOW that BODY fit INTO that TINY BOX!

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