Your 2011 Writing Resolution, part II

Since we’re so close to ringing in the New Year, let’s keep rolling with another topic for 2011 Writing Resolutions. Last night we kicked things off with striving for a daily word goal. Mine is 2,500. Tonight’s topic: joining a writing group.

Now, I’ve got a bit of a bias against writing groups, which I must say is nowhere near what one of my favorite writers, Anthony Bourdain, says about being in the company of other writers in his latest book, Medium Raw: “If you’ve ever spent ten minutes in one of those [writer’s bars] – a bunch of bitter, snowy-haired, bilious f**** with gin-blossomed noses and ballooning guts talking too loud and laughing too hard and secretly hating each other – you’ll reconsider ever putting another word to paper. I’ve found that hanging out with more than one of them at a time is about as much fun as being thrown into a cage full of hungry but toothless civet cats.”

My opinion on writing groups has always been that, besides the fact that being the father of 2 young boys and having barely enough time to talk to my wife these days about anything more than soccer game schedules and what to get the teachers for Christmas let along carve out several hours a week for to prepare for and meet with a critique group, what if the advice you’re getting from them is wrong? NY editors, the Word Gods themselves, have a hard enough time figuring out what will sell and what won’t. What makes Benny the furniture salesman, or Anita the lady who works at the county licensing office, an expert on your blood, sweat, and tears?

Well, here’s the thing. Benny and Anita are readers. Your readers. My readers. And if they say something like, “You know, there’s just too many characters to follow in the opening pages,” and that sentiment is about the 20th time you’ve heard it, then tuck that little nugget in the back of your brain for the next novel.

So, while I still don’t have the time to formally join a writing group, I am attending my local group’s annual conference. They’ve got some pretty good classes and breakout sessions listed. Who knows, maybe they’ll crack my crusty exterior with their warmth and congeniality and I’ll investigate the group a little further. Besides, I hear Anita makes killer brownies, which she brings to every meeting.

What about you? What are your thoughts on your local writing/critique groups? Do you regularly attend writing/critique groups? Do you plan to in 2011?

To the keyboards!


2 Responses

  1. I’ve used online writing groups, and sometimes they work well for me. When nothing works, though, well, nothing works, which has been the case lately (rejection fatigue). I get sidetracked by listening to all the comments – including those from Benny (who only likes action-packed thrillers) and Anita (who only likes romances) and I get lost. Then there’s the “wow, you write really well but this story sucks” which is sort of my specialty – I write boring stories, beautifully.

    I don’t know about resolutions. I just keep trying different things, then trying the same things over again in case I wasn’t ready before but am now.

    (and I loved Medium Raw, and adore Bourdain on Top Chef and anywhere else he shows up)

  2. I’m planning on finding an online critique group somewhere. Hopefully one that has some knowledgeable feedback floating around and not a load of fangirls hoping their vampire fanfic with be the next Twilight. Please god, don’t let this happen.

    Great advice and great post.

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