So, the past few blog posts had to do specifically with writer’s critique groups and I had mentioned that other types of groups can also be useful. There are a whole host of reasons why a critique group might not come together or might not be the right fit for you in terms of receiving feedback. I’m thinking of logistical reasons as well as personal preferences. Most of us have day jobs and other responsibilities which makes time a really important issue. It can sometimes happen that a critique group eats into writing time to a prohibitive degree and you prefer a quid-pro-quo work exchange with other writers you trust. So maybe a group with a slightly more relaxed agenda is a better match.
I mentioned groups that are more social, about connecting to other writers to talk about the thing that we do. Writing is a solitary occupation and sometimes it feels like what we do is happening in a vacuum. It can be just as helpful and motivating simply to meet with other folks jumping through the same hoops and experiencing similar peaks and valleys. In short, only writers really get what writers go through, from first draft to submissions to that first publication and beyond. There are things about this that are idiosyncratic. (Although the same can be said of other career paths.) If nothing else, making a point to connect with other folks who write can make you feel understood and that has a lot of value. Another benefit to the socially-oriented writer’s group is that these tend not to be so concerned about regular attendance, which is great for anyone who has a lot of demands on their time.
There are other groups that talk about specific topics as they relate to writing. I’m thinking of Juliette Wade’s Worldbuilding Hangouts on G+. The focus in her hangouts is self-evident and the discussions are serious but they are also a lot of fun. These types of groups can really help a writer to stretch the way they think about the writing, offer new perspectives on sometimes old topics, and of course help to generate new ideas.
Whichever type of group you choose to try, all of them are useful for networking which, let’s face it, is necessary in every field of work. I am tempted to say there is even more importance on that in creative fields because often, that is how things get done. And since we do the bulk of the work alone networking of this kind can sometimes act as a lifeline, a reminder that although the work is solitary, we are all still connected to something other than ourselves, that there is a community out there that we can reach out to when we need it.