The First Rule About Writing Club…

June 3, 2011 | By | 13 Replies More

We met Nettie Thomson on Twitter, an ocean apart, and she delightfully stepped up as one of our first guest bloggers, something we’ll always be grateful to her for.  NettieWriter’s  first post was so well loved (20 comments to date), that we encouraged her to write again. See how you like Nettie’s voice and what value she offers us, and then, join the conversation and leave a comment.

white and purple spring flowers

Bringing together writers with different qualities strengthens the whole group.

The first rule about Writing Club is we do not talk about Writing Club.

The second rule about Writing Club is we DO talk to each other.

What am I wittering on about? Hang on, and I’ll explain.

I can finish a piece of writing; I can edit it, put it in a drawer for a week, take it back out and edit it again and again and at the end of this process I think it’s the best it can possibly be.

Except it isn’t.

We all get too close to our writing to be able to really see our mistakes and there is a plethora of self-published nonsense* out there proving my point. What these authors lacked, in my opinion, was a good editor – or an honest critique from a trusted friend.

I am incredibly lucky in having Jacky as my writing buddy. For years she has pointed out my grammatical glitches and punctuation problems and she has helped me fill in more plot holes than a navvy on double-time. But as good as she is, she is only one pair of eyes. What would it be like if two people read my work over? Or three? Or maybe even more?

And this was how Writing Club was formed.

We are a twelve-strong group of writers who each wants to improve his/her craft. We write in different genres, have been writing for different periods of time and are each at different stages of our work, but more than anything else we want to get better at what we do. We started out as a group of two who each invited some others we felt were open to honest critiquing and whom we could trust. These new members invited some others and we were soon at our group limit. We decided to keep the group ‘secret’ because we didn’t want it to become a free-for-all – large numbers make it harder to manage in practical terms – and, most importantly, we had to trust each other.

From your Facebook Profile, you can create a group and see this this popup window. Name the group, then invite your friends!

We ‘meet’ on Facebook for a topic based chat once or twice a week where as many members as can come and join in, and in-between times there is usually someone around to provide support or answer a question for you. Already we have tackled whether genre restricts us and what comes first, character or plot. Facebook allows you to set up a ‘secret’ group and has the facility to let you upload your work as a ‘Doc’ that can be read and critiqued by the group.

So while I can’t tell you the name of our group, and I can’t invite you to join, I do urge you to find your safe place and get honest, critical feedback from people you trust.

And the third rule of Writing Group? Why, bring cake, of course!

*Not all self-published books are nonsense but I think we all know of a few that are.

Are you part of a writing club? or group? What works for you?


(Editor’s note. Not all traditionally published books are good either, even if we know many that are!)

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Category: On Writing

Comments (13)

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  1. Women Writers, Women Books | Clare Kirkpatrick | June 14, 2011
  1. Lora Hughes says:

    Hi, Nettie! My writers’ group got scattered after we did our MA & I’ve been a very lonely pup for over a year. Reading your article made me take the step to contact my uni friends & suggest a Facebook group. We’re all so busy & spread across the country, I didn’t have much hope but lo & behold! We’re reunited (jiggling hip dance there). Thank you so much for sharing your experience. You’ve made a difference to my writing life & inspired yet another writing group. Good going, woman!


  2. Marisa Birns says:

    Honest critical feedback from trustworthy people is the best gift a writer can receive.

    How wonderful that you’ve found such a safe place.

    And cake!

  3. Talli Roland says:

    You’re lucky to have such a fantastic group, Nettie. Getting feedback can be invaluable!

    • NettieWriter says:

      Thanks, Talli. I do feel blessed to have found such a supportive group who will tell me when I come out with a load of nonsense. But in a nice way!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. Derek Flynn says:

    100% agree with you, Nettie. I know some people question the value of writing groups, but I think having feedback from other writers is invaluable. Family and friends aren’t always objective and writers will notice the writing mistakes that others won’t. I think, also, it’s important to have writers who write *outside* of your particular genre, as well as within it.

    • NettieWriter says:

      That’s an interesting point, Derek. I sometimes worry that people who write different things to me might not ‘get’ what I am trying to do. But when it comes down to it, good writing is good writing, regardless of genre. Thank you for commenting.

  5. Wow! That group sounds awesome, Nettie! 🙂

  6. NettieWriter says:

    I’m glad you find feedback useful too, Ann. And trust is the most important thing, don’t you think? Many thanks for taking the time to comment.

  7. Ann Patey says:

    Hi Nettie you’re absolutely spot on and what you describe happening in your writing group is pretty much what we do in Workshops with @SarahDuncan1. The feedback is always honest and yet absolutely supportive.

    Your group sounds excellent and maybe their feedback together with your hard work and willingness to keep on learning is part of the reason why your writing is always of such a high standard.

    Anyway, I look forward to more of it!

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