Sunday 1 February 2009

Writers' Groups

A couple of new writers have contacted me during the past week. I feel a bit of a fraud when consulted for advice, in that I’m certainly not a best-seller, so there has to be a question mark about how valuable my suggestions might be. Having said that, the writing process does fascinate me, and it is for this reason, rather than because I see myself as a fount of knowledge, that I have the temerity to offer my thoughts on the writing game.

When I was working on what became my first published novel, during the 1980s, I was a member of Wirral Writers. We met every Friday at Bromborough Library, and I found it an enjoyable and sociable pastime. One of the members was a retired policeman, who gave me one or two ideas about police procedure, but the main benefit was the sharing of experiences and the chance to talk to other people with a common interest, including some who had actually published for money.

My first published story was one that I’d submitted for a competition run by another writers’ group, based in Southport (members included two people who would later contribute crime stories to anthologies which I’d edited on behalf of the Crime Writers’ Association.) This particular group was a very good one. The quality of groups does, naturally, vary but I am sure that there is much to be gained from joining your local group when you are starting out as a writer.

And after you have established yourself, it’s nice to stay involved, or at least in touch, with the group, if that is possible. I really enjoyed returning to Wirral Writers years after I’d moved away from the area, and had finally published a few novels. A great bunch of people, to whom I owe a lot.


Anonymous said...

The writing process fascinates me too so I read this with interest. Writing is such an individual pursuit and meeting in a group sounds encouraging provided the group is right for you. I don't have aspirations any more for writing a novel (I used to think I would like to) and the more I read the less sure I am that could do it. But writing is as addictive as reading. I used to write boring reports for my work and think that I'm stuck in the reporting mode. I'd love to break out.

Martin Edwards said...

Interesting points. The crafts of writing non-fiction and fiction are very different, but the mere fact that you have focused on one does not mean that you can't do the other successfully. I'd published several non-fiction books and many articles before my first novel saw the light of day. One thing you might like to do is try your hand at a short story. Short story writing is demanding, but at least it doesn't require the time commitment of a novel, and one can perhaps afford to take more risks with it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the idea. I think I'll have a go.

Martin Edwards said...

Great!Do let me know how you get on in due course

Anonymous said...

I think critical feedback is probably the most important thing for a writer, and obviously something which groups provide, albeit not exclusively.