It took me years to find my ideal writing group and now that I have, I cherish them more than I could have ever anticipated. You might have seen my recent post about a beta reading service that I used. It was pretty brutal. Despite finding value in the feedback, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave me rattled.
When I mentioned this to the group, I was startled and touched that they were indignant on my behalf. Feeling supported emotionally, as well as creatively, was a sensation I forgot was possible.
Now, this does not change the feedback I received, nor the fact that I must push through my feelings and leverage it to my story’s advantage. But my group’s support gave me a boost of sunshiny, energizing serotonin.
Sometimes, we carry on for such a long time being strong that we forget that there is anyone truly rooting for us. It is imperative to seek out and cultivate those supportive relationships. They keep us going, but also have a positive impact on our writing.
For example, one of my biggest writing blocks is making my protagonists emotionally available. That’s because I see myself in my protagonists—not so unusual—and regularly shut off my own big emotions just to get through real life.
But readers need to connect with main characters. Thanks to my writing group, receiving emotional support surrounding my writing actually helps bring my main character’s emotions to the page.
I’m not sure that we realize how much we compartmentalize the various aspects of out modern lives—protecting the practical from the frivolous and straining whimsy out of self-preservation. Alone on our creative islands, we can easily shut down the lighthouse and take shelter. But at a destructive cost.
Yes, we writers can do it alone, but it’s better when we’re part of a community.
Writing groups not only offer constructive feedback, but we root for each other. We celebrate each other and lift each other up. We offer each other patience in ways that other people can’t understand. I know that mine makes me happier—and a better writer.
To them, I am eternally grateful.