10 Ways Writers Groups Inspire Us – Pt 1

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Writers thrive on inspiration! Our senses are turned on and tuned in. Writers Groups inspire our senses and open our minds to new ideas – let me count the ways …

#1

The number one challenge for most writers is Consecrated Time to Devote to Writing. Writers’ Groups help us practice “scheduled devotion” to our craft when we get into the habit of attending them on a regular basis.

Life is such a busy place that it’s easy to get distracted by things we need to be doing, like grocery shopping, housekeeping, getting new tires put on the car, cooking, eating, bathing, and working our day job (when applicable), etc. Then there are the things we want to be doing, like hiking in nature, shopping for a new hat, spending time with family, catching up with friends by phone, email, or meeting up for a lunch or dinner date, etc. Lastly, there are the little—and sometimes not-so-little—surprises that interrupt our day in an unexpected way. When do we find time to write when time flies by too fast and our days overflow with “stuff” to do?

Such is the way of all things, me thinks. The universe abhors a void. When we consecrate our “writing time” by adding it to our dayplanner as we would add any other important event we wish to attend, we have fulfilled that time-period’s void. A proper beginning—intention and attention.

Needless to say, as soon as we have made our commitment and sealed it with a kiss, resisting force will often arrive like Darth Vader, breathing heavily in our ear the temptation to stray from our intention. Our best defense is quality attention to staying the course. Sometimes we simply can’t, however the majority of time we can and we will if we apply one simple word to our outstanding writer’s vocabulary—the word “NO.” “No, though I would love to meet you all for brunch, I am working on my masterpiece and will have to take a rain check.” “No, though I can think of nothing I would rather do than share a lovers’ tryst in the broom closet right now, I must remain focused on my masterpiece and will have to take a rain check.”

There are times when life simply sweeps us into its foray and we must go until the gods of time permit our return. “Writing time” is a horrible excuse for not visiting your mother or other friend or relative in the hospital. Take your notebook or laptop along and make use of idle time when you’re there. Weddings, funerals, birthday parties, etc, need our attention, yes, and we schedule writing time around these kinds of functions.

The important thing to remember is that we must consecrate time to devote to writing.

#2

Hearing Others’ Writing Styles opens new pathways for expression in our own writing. Each of us has our own unique style of writing. Our style may vary from genre to genre, but it’s pretty easy to recognize the difference between Ernest Hemingway, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King’s writing styles. When we hear others read what they’ve written during a writers’ group session, we may recognize a similar style to our own or a style which is very different from ours.

When we hear someone else read their writing, we might find a certain part of their style would be complimentary to our own, whether to one particular topic we are writing about or overall. How someone else builds a character, begins or ends a story, introduces a plotline, etc, might help us discover a new methodology or style to add to our own writing.

Writing groups usually encourage all attendees to share what they are writing while everyone else listens. Consequently, this also fine-tunes our ability to listen in a more whole and present way. Not only does this improve the quality of our listening in our writing group, but it also improves the quality of our listening overall, which we then take out into the world. Suddenly, we may find ourselves listening with new ears to the waiter taking our dinner order, or the couple wooing each other at the next table over from us, or the mother giving instructions to her child as he boards his first school bus. For a writer, hearing the world abuzz with life and wonder is just as valuable as seeing.

#3

Time Constraint Exercises Train Our Body-Memory to capture a certain amount of information in a specific time-frame. Writing Groups generally provide writing prompts and allow for a set time limit for one to write about that particular topic. After a while, our bodies get used to this kind of timed writing exercise and when we are writing at home or in our office by a particular time-set, our body-memory will help us begin and wrap up what we have to say in the allotted time.

These are the first three of my “10 Ways Writers Groups Inspire Us To Success”—stayed tuned for Part 2 where we’ll talk about seven more …

What’s next? Look for my future blog post – “10 Ways Writers Groups Inspire Us To Success – Part 2”

For a more comprehensive look at how to improve and refine your writing skills and technique, please visit my Classes page and join me for my Writing Basics webinar. I also offer Saturday morning online group writing sessions.

© Jennifer Sweete, March 2016

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