Monday, February 06, 2017

Three Reasons to Find and Join a Local Writer's Group

Writing is a solitary profession.  You sit down at your keyboard, put your fingers on the keys and write words which turn into stories. As I've written about in the Writing Life, getting published can be fairly easy. You can publish the material online in a blog or any number of other ways such as wattpad. The challenge is far greater than getting it out into the market. The real challenge is finding readers who will rave about your work and tell others.

Many years ago, when I was beginning my days in publishing, I saw the value of connections to other writers. I lived in Southern California and was one of the founding board members of the Orange County Christian Writers. At the time, I worked in the U.S. headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators and the group met twice a year in our building—so it was convenient for me to attend the meetings. I helped set up the room the day before our Saturday session. Also through this group, I got involved in a writer's critique group.

Every writer's group needs volunteers. These groups are run on a shoe-string budget and volunteers are critical for the group to succeed and continue.  As a volunteer, I was able to contribute to the group, but I also received and learned more from the experience. It's the first reason that every writer needs to find and join a local writer's group: increase your personal growth as a writer.

A local writer's group also provides the opportunity for inexpensive training (the second reason). For many of the large conferences, you have to travel on a plane, pay conference fees, etc. in a local setting you can learn a great deal and lower your expenses.  While it was years ago, many of the speakers I met at those Orange County Christian Writers meetings are still active in the publishing world. The foundation of my relationship with these individuals started in a local writer's group.

Also in a local writer's group, you have the opportunity discover what others are writing and where they are finding opportunities to get published. As you meet new people and listen to what they are writing, these experiences can open new doors of opportunity in your own writing life. Maybe you've never thought about writing an opinion editorial for the local newspaper or writing for a compilation book like Chicken Soup for the Soul or ______. Yet as you hear what others are doing, it opens your mind and heart to new possibilities.

In the bold type, I've highlighted three reasons to find and join a local writer's group. There are many different types of local groups. If you are not in a group, I encourage you to look for one (use google) or look for a local chapter of a national writer's organization.

Last year, I learned the Nonfiction Authors Association was expanding their local chapter program. When I looked at the various locations, there was no chapter meeting in Colorado (nothing). I filled out an online form and volunteered to start the South Denver Chapter (really the only Colorado NAA chapter). I found a place to meet and we've had about half a dozen meetings. If you live in Colorado, I encourage you to check our home page—but especially begin attending the monthly meetings (the third Wednesday of every month). Each meeting will have a speaker on a different nonfiction topic.

No matter where you live, I encourage you to join the Nonfiction Authors Association. The basic membership is FREE.  Every writer can profit and grow from being involved in a local writer's group. Are you active in a local writer's group? Tell me about it in the comments below.

If you don't have a local writer's group, you can always start one—like I did last year.

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3 Comment:

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Stephanie Chandler Left a note...

Excellent post, Terry! We're so thrilled to have you as our Colorado chapter leader!

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thank you for this comment and the affirmation. It's been a fascinating journey and I believe we are helping people and growing as writers together in the process. Something important is happening with each meeting.


At 3:52 PM, Blogger Unknown Left a note...

Terry, thank you for this very informative post. I will continue to look for a critique partner in my area.


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