One thing I’ve learned about myself is that unless there is a deadline, whether it’s self-imposed or not, I let responsibility take over my life.
Right now, I have a novel drafted. I believe my first draft is complete. Yet every time I give it time, I add a paragraph, delete a line (or ten), move pages and pages of work around. I can’t even say anymore that I’ve finished my first draft. Because it’s a mess. A big hot mess.
It’s discouraging. I know that. I’m avoiding my novel right now. Currently it sits at my feet in a recycled shopping bag. Secretly it’s screaming at me although only I can hear the screams.
When I was part of a writing group, I was focused on my writing, driven by the story and by the feedback. I worked on my novel daily.
Admittedly, I’m not that writer who follows the “write 500 words each day” rule. (Except during NaNo.)
I work when I’m inspired by a thought or a line, because I know when I sit down to my beast, it sucks up my time. In chunks. When I initially started my novel, I wrote for eighteen hours straight (besides food and toilet breaks). That’s happened a few times since. On one stretch, I sequestered myself to a cabin in Australia’s Snowy Mountains and wrote for three days. It wasn’t in one sitting that time, but it was focused time.
I strongly believe in the power of the writing group.
When you are part of a writing group:
- You focus on your writing.
You have deadlines, whether self-imposed or as part of the writers group, to submit writing pieces for review. It’s like an unwritten push, extra pressure to get it done. Then, there’s the incentive to review the community’s feedback and rewrite or redevelop your work.
- You’re inspired to write all kinds of things.
Whether it’s through writing prompts or exercises or simply because you’re inspired to write. By writing other things, you get a break from your major work. For example, due to a writing prompt, I wrote a short story about Little Red Riding Hood. Revamped, of course. Another night I wrote a short story based a real life conundrum. I’ve written poetry. Fictional letters. It’s really helped me look more closely at my writing in general.
- You’re inspired by what other people write.
By their writing and by their stories. It may be by their words. It may be by their passion for writing.
- You dig deeper into your characters.
This was powerful for me and what led me to go deeper on my novel. I rewrote a scene in my novel from a secondary character’s point of view. My novel doesn’t have his point of view per sé, but rewriting a scene which was originally in my protagonist’s voice, allowed me to really understand the anger my secondary character was feeling. That’s powerful stuff!
I know how it’s helped me. I’m curious to know how a writer’s group has helped you.