Writing with Strangers
…also known as Alicia’s adventures with writer’s groups and Meetup
It’s advice that you’ve no doubt heard before – in order to successfully write, you need to commit to writing on a regular basis. Sounds simple enough. Though any writer will tell you that scheduling (and maintaining a schedule) for writing time is anything but simple.
For years, I would schedule writing time. It would be easy to keep at first – yay! look at me, sitting at the table and writing like a real writer. I’d get my headphones and notebook, and I’d sit and write, so pleased with myself. Then life’s little dramas would rear their ugly heads…and my writing would inevitably suffer.
And then the writer in me got incredibly lucky – I discovered the power (and consistency) in writing groups. My first real experience with a writing group was during NaNoWriMo a few years ago, when a friend I met in a local writing class invited me to a NaNoWriMo write-in. Random writers came and went throughout the month, but a core group of writers continued to show up for the write-ins. At the end of the month, we decided (though many of us didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo), we’d gotten too much work done to stop meeting. So, we continued to meet on a weekly basis…and though the group has changed somewhat, I can credit the schedule (guess that bit of advice was accurate) and a kind of positive peer pressure to show up to helping me to finish 2 novels. yay!
Last year, while going through the early stages of the divorce process, I promised myself that I would get out and try new things. It felt like so much of my adult non-work life (up to this point) consisted of sitting at home alone, reading and writing (aaaaaand watching a lot of tv/movies), and essentially waiting for life to happen. So, because I wanted to try new things and because my writing partner had positive experiences with other meetup groups, we decided to open up our tight-knit group to a meetup group…
Now, I can’t say it’s been all smooth sailing – writers, by definition, tend to be a little solitary and shy – so, I had to push through my own nervousness of meeting new people. And, as with all things in life, there were people who didn’t quite understand the idea of meeting up just to talk and write (we don’t give each other writing prompts/assignments or do in-depth critiques).
But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the whole process. Do I meet some weird people? Sure, but then again, I AM WEIRD. 🙂 What I have found through the meetup group has been – new and interesting writers, some kindred spirits, some who make us better by challenging our own ideas, and some who (like me) blossom through the benefits of the writing group. And then again, some Sundays, I find myself chatting with interesting people about all kinds of things and ending the session without doing any writing at all. But that’s okay too. Because, at the end of the day, I’m not just sitting on my couch wishing to meet writers like me…I’m actually meeting them and they’re making me a better writer. 🙂
Have you tried writing or other artistic groups? Do you like them?