Some time ago, I went searching online for writer’s groups in my area. I found two, but only one that I really felt would be a good fit for me. They meet once a month but take the summers off. They had their seasonal ‘kick-off’ this morning. They had a guest speaker, Dean Drawbaugh, who spoke about the “Nine Qualities that Generate Book Sales”. He spoke for almost two hours. It was very informative and interesting. Mr. Drawbaugh is a writer, publisher and consultant.
It was definitely a step out of my comfort zone to go to the group this morning, as I am an introvert and am uncomfortable going into a group situation not knowing if anyone I know will be there. It was a good-size group, between 30 and 35 people, some of whom drove for an hour or more to get there. I didn’t notice anyone really reaching out to people they didn’t already know, but it is easier to get to know people and learn more about them in the small groups, so I’m sure that’s where I’ll get to know more of the people. I did speak with the leader of the small group for a little while afterwards to gather a little more information about the group and the sharing process.
Mr. Drawbaugh also said something that I had posted here in the past about writing. I had shared a while ago that I have been seeing a lot of stuff about writers writing for themselves and the fact that this seems to have become more important to some writers than determining their audience and writing for a specific audience. I mentioned that unless you know who you are writing for and write to that audience, you probably won’t sell many books. Mr. Drawbaugh said the same thing. He said that if a writer wants to write for him or herself, that’s fine, if he/she only wants to sell one copy. He stressed the importance of knowing who your audience is, writing to that audience, and then preparing to market to that audience. That’s how you become a successful writer who sells lots of copies of your book. So, the real question is, do you want to achieve a level of success that enables you to earn some money or do you just want to write for your own pleasure? I know I want to achieve a level of success and earn some money. Writing is hard work, and though I love it, I would really like to be paid to do it.
This particular writer’s group frequently has guest speakers. Most months, though, they divide into small groups and whoever wants to can share a piece of writing for feedback from the others in the group. There is a limit on the number of words your piece may have, to enable everyone who wants to share to have the time to do so. Then there is the ‘oreo cookie’ rule that says that those giving feedback must start with something positive, followed by tips and advice on things that they think should be changed or that could be done better (this is also done in a kind, polite manner), and then end with another positive.
I think this is a great way to get and give feedback. It gives the writer helpful advice and offers them another point of view or perspective that can be helpful without tearing them and/or their writing apart in a manner that is simply defeating. This type of writer’s group is very helpful and encouraging. I think I’m going to like this group. I plan to continue attending.
It has inspired me to write more, and I look forward to seeing what I can come up with and, maybe, share at the next meeting.
Many people speak of a writer’s life as solitary and in many ways it is, but it is so important to have a network or group that you can be a part of to prevent yourself from giving up or becoming depressed. It’s always good to know that you’re not the only one struggling with a scene or a character or whatever.
Are you a member of a writer’s group? Can’t find one in your area? Maybe you could start one.