The Benefits of Writing Groups: Dori Ann Dupré
By Dori Ann Dupre
Like most things in life - although certainly not all - you reap what you sew. As a writer, I find that my solitude or my co-existence with another person (or maybe just a couple of others), is a priceless treasure. Many writers are introverts and we find that our greatest asset in writing is our introversion. We watch, we observe, we take notes and tuck them into the folds of our brains regarding what is going on around us. Introverted does not necessarily mean antisocial, however.
When I started writing my first novel, I decided to step outside of my own head and join a small local writers’ group which meets monthly at a local brewery. It is a sub-project of the larger statewide network. It’s called Pittsboro Writers Morning Out, but the meetings are held at 1:00 PM. I found that most intriguing…writers who name a group something that makes no actual sense…an editor would eat that alive in a manuscript. Writers would probably point out that error as well, but it’s also writers who say, “We have creative license to call it whatever we want.”
The group consists of an eclectic few local poets, wanna-be novelists, short story writers, some published, some not, some former writing professors, some current writing instructors, and really, anyone who considers themselves a “writer.” One is Santa Claus. No, really, he is. He even gave me his business card. He has his PHD, which, he informed me means, “Pole Hole Digger.” Got to love the rural southern town where I live. There are a range of ages and life experiences, but no matter where you are as a writer – whether you consider yourself an expert or a beginner or somewhere in between – you can learn something about writing and you can learn something about yourself.
Since entering that first meeting over a year ago, I have been more engaged with other writers, more willing to talk about my writing and (gasp) less introverted about it. I took a short fiction class, which introduced me to other local writers I otherwise would not have met. I’m a part of several online writing communities, each serving its own purpose within the larger writing world. Communities of women writers and bloggers are excellent sources, of not only information and ideas, but encouragement and support. Communities of independent authors are great venues to generate the kinds of practical conversations you need in marketing and branding and advertising and resources and learning new and improved ways to reach an audience in an overly saturated market. Communities of genre writers and communities of readers enhance your ability to communicate effectively, not just within your own writing but as an “author,” as someone who has something valuable to say. These are all tremendous networking opportunities. You never know who you might meet.
Most importantly, to me, writing communities are stock full of possible kindred spirits just waiting to bond with you, and when you can find one of those in life, you are richer than any royalty check.