Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Why join a writing group

Writing books and magazines encourage those interested in writing to join a writing or critique group. But what type of group should you join and where can you find one?
There are various types of writing groups just as there are a wide variety of writers.  You can find online, national, state and local writing groups, as well as genre groups such as Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Horror Writing Association, National Association of Writers, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Garrett County writers

Each can be a help and I have been, and am still in some. On a more personal level, a local writing group can help you fine tune your writing and get you used to having people read it and comment.
I was in a writing group in Garrett County, Maryland, called the Wednesday Writer’s Guild. We generally met on Wednesday evenings. We were amateurs interested in writing. We learned from each other and had fun.

Each writer, who wanted to participate, brought copies of a short piece to the meeting. Someone else read the piece, so the writer could hear how it sounded. If the reader paused or stumbled while reading, there might be a problem. When we read our own work, we tend to see words that aren’t there. We know they should be, so we automatically “read” them.
During the discussion, the author was not to speak or defend their work. Members offered suggestions, mentioned where they may have been confused, pointed out errors and asked questions. After the discussion was over, it was okay for the author to explain. Then we returned the papers, with comments and suggestions  to the writer.
Joelle Jarvis, Kerry Peresta, Lona
Queen at Balto. Book Festival
At monthly meetings, we critiqued partial chapters of novels, newspaper articles, short stories and poetry. One member introduced graphic novels to the group. Occasionally a topic or prompt was suggested for the next meeting. I enjoyed writing a short piece about a different topic. It was surprising the number of ideas that would come from the same sentence.
Many members were published in the area literary magazine, Ginseng, newspapers and in other media. Some also have published books.

Now I am with the Carroll County Chapter of Maryland Writers’ Association,  (CCMWA) which focuses on education and socialization.  Writing can be a lonely profession. It is encouraging to meet with others of like mind. We have speakers at most of our MWA meetings, but also encourage writers to attend other writing events, book festivals and conferences. Members also participate in write-ins such as National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo).
Betsy Riley at Gaithersburg
Book Festival
The CCMWA supports the Carroll County Critique Group. Participants can bring in what they want to read, but need to keep it short, depending on how many people attend. Again, prompts are occasionally suggested to encourage writers to try something new.

The Carroll County Novel and Short Story Writing Group published an anthology, Christmas Carroll, in 2015. It featured area writers and artists. Also, member Betsy Riley of Blue Dragon Press published the anthology, One Left Shoe, which included local writers.

The CCMWA is currently hosting a contest for Flash Fiction, which is a story of less than 500 words that includes a beginning, middle and end. If you are interested, email for details.

Writing groups encourage each other to write and publish. Each one can be unique, so look for one that meets your needs. You can check out to find a group in your area and contact information.

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