Written by A Guest Author May 27th, 2016

The Magic of Writing Groups

By Keith Gillison

The first time I attended a writing group I was terrified. I’d never shared my writing before and there I was, reading out the first chapter of my novel to a room full of writers. It was the best decision I ever made.

Writing groups have given me so much that I can’t recommend them enough. If you are just starting out on your writing journey, or you’re a more experienced writer looking for inspiration, then the best thing you can do is join your local writing group. Why? There are lots of reasons, but here are a few:

1. Confidence – Sharing your work for the first time is daunting. My confidence grew from reading my work in a safe and supportive environment. Other writers aren’t going to laugh at you (unless you’re reading a humorous scene, in which case hearing their laughter is music to the ears), they’ll give you positive feedback on your work. Words of praise and encouragement from experienced and published writers feeds your confidence and gives you the belief that, yes, you can do this and you do have talent.

2. Skills – I didn’t realize the mistakes I was making until I attended a writing group. Criticism is constructive; you learn what is good about your writing and what you need to work on. I learned about pacing stories, avoiding repetition, characterization, plot development and much more. Hearing the brilliant stories of other writers really helped me to sharpen up my writing and become a better writer.

3. Networking – The contacts you make at your local writing group are the start of building a network and, ultimately, an audience. As a result of attending a writing group I became aware of other writing groups and networks. It helped point me in the right direction to meet more writers and attend literary events. I also never knew there were so many online forums and groups out there. I always paid attention when someone recommended a particular group or event. No one person nows every resource you can plug into but I’ve found everyone seems to know something. All that knowledge in the same room is incredibly powerful.

4. The next level – I had no idea how to go about trying to publish a novel. At my very first meeting, two of the writers present unveiled their latest self-published books. The books looked so professional. I knew nothing about self-publishing, but right then I knew I was in the right place to find out more. Seeing the successes of others in the group and learning from their experiences can inspire you and take your writing to the next level. I went from never having shared my work before to having short stories published in magazines and anthologies and self-publishing my first novel.

Writing groups are amazing. The positive energy and creative sparks that come from getting a group of writers in a room together is inspirational and leads to great things for those in the group, as well as lifetime friendships. No group in your area? Hire a room, start one and who knows; you might just find and inspire the next best-selling author – or several.

Keith Gillison is a UK writer of flash fiction, short stories and novels in many genres including humour and crime. His stories have been published in magazines, anthologies and online. His first novel, The Boss Killers, is a dark humour crime novel and was self-published in 2015.


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