Tag: writing group
A couple years ago I moved from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. (What can I say, I like Portlands!) But despite the identical names, they're very different cities. I'd been in Oregon for a decade, spent much of that time immersed in the various writing and music scenes, made good friends, and felt well-supported within those communities. Then suddenly I'm in this new place on the other side of the continent with no literary connections — and having to use GPS to get around town too. Ugh! So I've done a lot of thinking over the past two years about literary community, what it means to build or join a community of writers, and why it's crucial to be a part of such a community. I've also done a lot of reaching out; I've attended many readings; I've joined a writing group that meets monthly; and what do you know, slowly but surely I've become a part of a new community of Maine writers that I turn to for mentorship, feedback, or just to grab a drink and talk about books we love. The solitude that people often experience when they move to a new town can be great for writing. You can be a lot more productive when your social options are limited. But at some point every writer craves that sense of community, or what Daryl Rothman calls a "literary network of resources, opportunity and mutual support which can help take your writing and publishing dreams to the next level."
I have a theory about creating a successful career as a novelist: we all need community; we succeed because of our community. Community is a three-legged stool. I have one of these stools at home, painted black and white, with pink udders under the seat. My creative grandfather gave it to me, and I smile every time I look at it because it’s fun, playful, and reminds me of him, and of my three-legged theory of success for authors.
1. You have a set schedule for writingWriting is like a muscle. If you don't exercise regularly, you get flabby. At the beginning of a new workout schedule, most people are very enthusiastic. They tend to lose interest within the first month or so when distractions get in the way or their muscles start to protest. Joining a fitness class or playing a team sport is one way to stay on track. You have other people to keep you accountable. You need to learn to exercise your writing muscle on a regular schedule. Signing up for an online writer's workshop means you will be working at your craft even on days when the words don't come easily, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. You can gain the skills necessary to work through times when you struggle to find the right way to express yourself or you just get something down, knowing that you can come back to it later when your creativity well is a bit higher.
There are many types of workshops, but none are quite as useful at honing a novelist's natural voice as a read aloud and critique workshop.
a Poetry Foundation article about the worth of MFA programs. While I've never been "officially" enrolled in any creative writing program, I did take three MFA workshop classes in poetry as a post baccalaureate at Portland's lovely State University when my schedule (and $$!!!) allowed.