Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Writing Groups

On Saturday I attended the inaugral meeting of our local writers' group. I'd recently come to the realisation that a very high percentage of people in my suburb are creative types. So when my friend Gaynor, who recently joined the magazine ZADifference, introduced me to writer and producer Anita Khanna ( she who won an award from the South African Film and Television Awards for The Mating Game, a TV series that was broadcast on SABC), talk naturally inched towards finding a way to support each other with our creative projects.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical that it could work. I've joined a writing group before, and showed up for one meeting, but life happened and it's so much easier (and rewarding) to connect with other writers online.

But Gaynor was soo eager and I do need to get out of the house once or twice a week:-). So I agreed to the plan to meet and the first meeting went wonderfully well.

We had a good representation of new and experienced writers, and the discussion went well enough that we  scheduled the second  meeting. It is a closed, by invitation group, with members hopefully coming from our suburb or surrounds. We believe that this will make the group manageable.

I left the meeting with my head buzzing with new insight on how I can improve  my writing business, the way I craft stories and how my life impacts on my writing. I was also dazzled by Anita's generosity of spirit: she lent some of the writers her books ( which deal with aspects of the craft), recommended a few more ( that she'd loved but no longer had) and she even showed us a draft of a 20 minute script she'd done because she couldn't get over the story buzzing in her head, essentially showing newbies what a movie script looks like.

Some local writers couldn't come because of their life demands,  and others travel through work. So it was suggested that those who cannot attend in the flesh can Skype into the monthly meetings. We all have laptops and PCs, so it should make participation easier if one can't leave home that day. Nice, yes?

So. Do you belong to a writing group? Have you ever joined one? What did you like/dislike about writing groups? What would you want from one?


po said...

I joined a few writing groups, well they were marketed as classes, with a teacher, so I guess it is a bit different, although it was good to see other people's stuff and have their suggestions on mine because I did learn a lot that way. I think it is good to be exposed to that kind of thing at some point so you can learn and see what works for you and what doesn't, but I wouldn't join one permanently. I didn't like the over-cautious over-praising mentality, where people had lots of nice things to say and not much criticism because they were afraid. That part was not much use.

Damaria Senne said...

@Po- You're right about a writer needing constructive criticism from the group, rather than a mutual admiration society:-)

When I give my material to some friends who read for me, I usually need them to help me identify why what works/doesn't work in the story, so I can improve it and make it publishable. Of course there is a huge element of trust needed for the relationship to work. And it's only been lately ( aka this year) that I've tried to expand that circle of people.

Also, I think the person who critiques you needs to be almost at the same level of the craft with you, or higher. It helps when they have knowledge of the medium or genre you're writing for as readers.

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