Before my support group, I found writing a lonely job, as much as I loved it. Unless you write with a partner, writing is one on one — you and your imagination, you and your computer. You are alone with your writing. But before my support group, there was no one to provide good constructive criticism, no one to brainstorm ideas with, no one to talk about the joys and terrors of finding that perfect sentence or chapter. I couldn’t talk writing to my husband or non-writing friends, who would look strangely at me when I wanted to talk about motivation and character arc. When I was in a slump, there was no one to whine to, no one to tell me that’s what all writers do and to get back to the computer.
Then, I took a creative writing class and met Bonnie Dodge and we started our writing support group. Along came Dixie Thomas Reale and Jenny Sandman and I’m so grateful for all of them. They all have different strengths and a good eye for finding grammar problems and inconsistencies. They tell me what works as much as what doesn’t work, and I learn from both. I’m sure I would not have been published without them.
Of course, finding the right group can be difficult. You need people who can be tough, but always positive, people who will give you encouragement even if those pages you sent them were really bad. You need people who love to write. People who love to read. And you must also be a good writing critique member.
Over the years, we have been friends as well as critique partners… a wonderful side benefit. Without them, writing would truly have been a lonely job.