Writing Groups - Why Authors Benefit from Joining One.
Updated: May 29, 2020
Being part of a writing group is one of the best things a writer can do to improve their writing. Whether you are at the beginning of your writing career, middle or experienced, consider joining a writing group near you.
My group of eight is named Write on Water and we meet every month. It's a relatively new group, we have been together a little more than a year. We meet to discuss our current projects, listen to and critique each other's work and generally socialise around the subject of writing, reading and books in general. We also enjoy sharing our ideas and sites that help us all to learn and improve our craft.
At the end of each session, one of the members sets a writing task (or prompt) for us to share at the next meeting. These prompts help you to think about writing something you may not have thought of and occasionally, it might be a topic totally out of the genre you've become accustomed to writing. They help you to think out of you comfort zone, which is a great creative writing tool. This is the type of thing you can expect from a good writing group, it helps to strengthen your writing skills by receiving constructive feedback from your fellow writers.
I've included an example of what we do with these writing prompts, enjoy reading Ross' contribution to a recent challenge set by our member, Conchita -
It is in the young’s nature, not to listen to anybody else.
by Ross Venner
© 11 October 2019
I suppose it is the adventurous chicks that fall from the nest and are lost to each generation. Perhaps, if they could be saved, progress would be far faster. But progress to what destination? At least, I wonder…
It is in the nature of the young, not to listen to anybody else. The child that defies their parent and jumps on their bicycle, don’t ask the rest; it’s always painful.
My brother, well he was like that; precocious. Always charming to the girls; that was Johnny, his secretive smile that hooked up the corner of his mouth and seemed with so few words to hook the prettiest girls at any church function we attended. Oh yes, there were so many church get togethers.
My Dad was slow to pick-up on his eldest son’s talent and Mum was usually in the canteen, cooking with the other mothers.
I think I remember the autumn afternoon when it happened. He was chatting with Mary, his favourite of the moment on the shaded porch of the hall. He winked at me when he caught me looking in their direction and muttered about “taking the canoe.” That would have been down on the creek beyond the trees. Then the two of them sauntered off hand in hand. Two fourteen year olds, so innocent. He was back in time for dinner, a bit quiet, but nothing was said; in fact, I doubt my parents even noticed.
The explosion came two months later. You can imagine the fury, “Your son, yes; you the preacher’s son…” Mary was in tears standing guiltily beside her mother.
Father’s response was furious. John was banished. I have no idea how a fourteen year old can just vanish, but he did. He was never mentioned again. A few months later, Mary disappeared for several months. When she returned, she was a new, sullen girl. The spark had gone out of her. Silently I thought that the new Mary would have had no appeal to John.
It was when I was at nursing college that I next saw John. One of my pals, Beth had a music magazine on her bed. Imagining my parents’ reactions, I felt so brave, even defiant, as I flicked through the pages. There he was, just a small picture in an ad, but his unmistakable smile, John.
I begged Beth to take me to the club. She was pretty cheesed-off with that. “Not her scene, and I’ve a morning shift;” but she saw my desperation and reluctantly agreed, “as long as we didn’t stay too late.”
The club was an assault on the senses. Noise laid over a pulsating, inescapable rhythm, flashing lights, strange smells. Hot bodies pressed close together. I saw an old-fashioned noticeboard, the type where you press white letters into a backboard with baise lined tracks to hold tags on the back of the letter. The third line down, John Feltham and the Preachers Sons.
He came on stage at a quarter to ten. I was mesmerised. The make-up was extraordinary, father would have called it satanic; but there was no mistaking that smile. I pushed forward, right up to the front of the stage and screamed, “John.” There were plenty of others screaming too. At first, I didn’t think he heard me. Then, I saw recognition in his eyes, he switched the microphone to his other hand, reached down and caught my wrist. Suddenly, I was there at the focus of the light and noise.
Afterwards, he introduced me to his “crew.” I don’t recall their names; I was still in shock. There was one rather tawdry blond who seemed upset and disbelieving when he shouted, “My sister.”
Beth must have left. They dropped me off outside the dorm at about two in the morning and later, I had to explain myself to matron for getting in so late. “Yes, I said. I found my long-lost brother.”
“Really?” The eyebrows said, “I’ve heard it all before.”
“Yes, he’s John Feltham, the singer,” I said firmly.
“Pull the other one, Agnes.”
“I mean it. Father kicked him out six years ago. Now I’ve found him.” I burst into tears.
“I’ll have to call your parents…”
“Please no, Matron. He hasn’t seen his family for six years. How would you feel?” Her face didn’t move for several seconds and I added, “He was only fourteen. How could he know?”
She took a deep breath, “Ah yes, the ignorance of the fundamentalists. I’ve seen it happen to good girls too, in my time; too many. At least as a nurse, you have some idea."
I went home for a long-planned holiday the following week. I didn’t mention that I had seen John, but I quietly packed a bag and when I left, John collected me from the edge of the village. He was driving a BMW. He looked sadly at the familiar scene and asked, “I wonder what happened to poor Mary?”
It is in the nature of the young, not to listen to anybody else. I miss the family too, but now I have John and his crew...