Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is a writing group for you?

Do you belong to a writing group or are you thinking about joining one? Have you considered the pros and cons of belonging to such a group and what type of group might best suit you?

There are various types of writing groups. Some are primarily social. Writing can be a lonely business and it’s good to meet occasionally with others who may have a similar thought process. Personally, I love meeting with other writers and am happy if we critique each others' writing or just talk about writing in general.

Some groups meet in person and some work online. Make sure that at least some people in your group write in the same genre as you. There are groups whose members read their works at the meeting and offer suggestions. If someone else reads the work, the author can listen for pauses or  indications that a portion of the writing may need to be changed. Others groups ask that pieces ready for critique be emailed ahead of time so there is time to read and think about the submitted writing.

Members often read and discuss short stories and poems at the meeting. Novels may be critiqued better online or printed, and critiqued chapter by chapter. Members should offer constructive criticism. A critique should be more than just one person’s opinion (I like this, I don’t like that) or grammatical corrections. It should consider character, setting plot, etc.

In most writers’ groups, members support from fellow writers, sharing information about contests and jobs, learning from each other and from occasional speakers, as well as critiquing each others' works.

If you already belong to a writing group, is your group thriving? A lack of attendance may indicate a problem.  Attendance may vary up and down but you should have you small core of regulars. Are members prepared? Some people seldom bring or send any writing, but enjoy reading the works of others and offering advice. However, writers should be writing.

If meetings are ending early or seem boring, it might help to vary the routine? Some groups propose writing topics or prompts to encourage members to try something new. Some even take time to write during the meeting.

Remember an important part of writer's group is the camaraderie. The group you choose should meet your needs and you should be able to fit into the group. Otherwise, you might want to look for another group

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Unthink, rediscover your creative genius, by erik wahl (writer, entrepreneur, speaker, graffiti artist) is a book for everyone.

Wahl’s life changed with the burst of the bubble and he began to examine his life and his artistic needs, questioning if anything was truly reliable. He began to paint and then to speak publicly challenging corporations to consider both “business intellect and artistic intuition, corporate sense and creative sensibility.”

Throughout the book, wahl (yes, he likes to use lowercase) gives examples of people who took time to think and made a difference in business, politics and art. Mystery, imagination and passion are key themes, as is the necessity to use both the left and right sides of our brains.

If we don’t know what is causing that itch or dissatisfaction in our life, we need to keep exploring. We need to rethink what we were taught about fitting in and just doing what is expected. Mystery makes everything more interesting and drives creativity.

While some people don’t change until forced to do so, “artists don’t wait to be rattled only from the outside. They provoke themselves first and then the people around them, in order to constantly imagine new possibilities.”

He gives examples of leaders such as Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King Jr., William Wilberforce, Mahatma Gandhi, writing that “all were artists of the highest form. Their brushes and paints were the words and actions that pointed to the better way and the higher standard.”

Just as writers are encouraged to raise the stakes, people in all fields should strive to find the spark of creativity. “Those who live in a constant state of creativity are the game changes,” he writes.

“Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise, he quotes artist/writer Julia Cameron.

Todays successful artist, he stresses “is the one who knows when to embrace the childlike creativity of the right brain and when to embrace the logical strategy of the left brain.” Great progress never occurs through strategy alone.” 

He encourages everyone to remember their dreams and follow their passions. As writers, these ideas are even more important to us. We generally already have good imaginations and a passion to communicate, but if we let out internal editor interfere too much with what we are writing, we need to unthink. This book gives us much to think about.