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Why You Need a Writing Group

You’ve heard of writing groups, whether it’s the famous Inklings or my own group on Facebook, Mightier than the Sword, or just the sort of impromptu, frantic writing groups that coalesce over the course of National Novel Writing Month, you know that there exist, in the wild, bunches of writers who sit around talking to each other.

Have you ever participated in one? Have you ever been invited to one? If not, I’m inviting you now to Mightier than the Sword. Let me know in the comments, or just look me up on Facebook and drop me a message, and I’ll be happy to bring you into the fold.

It’s hard to beat the power of meeting face-to-face, though, so I’d encourage you to find a local writing group (or found your own, if it comes to that).

It’s a lot of work — and it’s a lot of work that isn’t putting words on the page — but it will make you a better writer in three different ways (that just happen to be synonyms).


Yesterday I told the story of my first writer’s group meeting, and the big lesson it taught us all — that we’re all strange in precisely the same way — came entirely by surprise. We’d gotten together, each of us for our own reasons, but none of us could have realized beforehand how valuable that one message would be.

In a writing group, you can stop feeling so strange.

More than that, you can participate fully in your craft. As a writer you should be talking about those strange experiences, about the magical moments of inspiration and dreadful doldrums between 20k and 40k.

No matter what patient listeners your friends and family are, nothing beats the sympathy and encouragement you can get from hearing another writer say, “Oh, me too.”


And that conversation is more than just emotional support. When you talk to other writers about writing problems, you’ll find answers.

Maybe you’re having problems with characterization, or designing a working plot. Maybe you’re having trouble figuring out how to balance research time against getting a first draft written. Maybe you just can’t get your damsel into distress, no matter how hard you try.

The thing is…whatever it is that’s slowing you down, it’s not new. Every artist’s experience is a little different, but the other writers in your group have run into something like it. Exploring the processes and writing exercises that have worked for them could very likely help you find your own solution.

It can also get you moving again. Every single time our group meets, no matter what we discuss, we all break up commenting how much we want to write. Hanging out with writers is inspiring.


It’s also a savvy business decision.

Writing is a lonely process, but getting published is an incredibly social one.

That’s true whether you’re looking for a multi-book deal with a New York house, or hoping to self-publish and self-promote. Either way, you’re going to need help getting your pages in front of the eyes of serious readers.

You’ll need test readers to provide feedback. You’ll need fans to help promote your work. If you’ve given up on the gatekeepers, you’ll need editors (and they don’t come cheap).

A good writing group should provide you all of those, though. Sure, you’ll have to reciprocate, but you’ll be learning in the process. You’ll be improving yourself as a writer, in myriad directions, at every step of the way.

So get yourself a writing group. Need help finding out how? Come back tomorrow, and I’ll give you some tips on finding or building your own writing group (and a good solid deadline to keep you motivated).

And, seriously, if you want in Mightier than the Sword, let me know. If nothing else, it’s a start.

5 Responses to “Why You Need a Writing Group”

  1. Srinivas Rao says:

    Smart advice. I think that this doesn’t just have to be limited to writing, but to any area you want to master in your life. In fact if you look at many of the really successful bloggers they have been part of informal mastermind groups that have been instrumental in growing their blogs.

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      That makes a lot of sense, Srini. I’ve definitely noticed that trend among bloggers.

      I think that’s why the pros are always so quick to point out that the blogging community is cooperative, not competitive. With creative work, it’s so easy to feel like you’re out there on your own, but everything works better when you’re engaged with other creators.

  2. Courtney Cantrell says:

    In my comment on yesterday’s article, I promised that I would leave a more specific comment about my thoughts on writing groups…

    …so of course, Aaron, you preempted my comment by saying everything in your article that I was going to say in my comment. Which I should have predicted you would do. Of course. ;o)

    All I can add is that more than anything, the past year of being connected with other writers has changed me for the better. My confidence is higher. My creativity runs deeper. My writing has become more regular. My output has increased. My ambition to follow my passion has grown. My soul feels more at peace with who I am.

    Because of my fellow writers, I know better who I really am.

    Thanks, guys.

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      Sorry about that, Courtney. Ever since I noticed how popular WILAWriTWe is, I’ve had spy cameras installed in your brain so I can steal all your good ideas.

      (Either that, or we’ve been in the same writing group, and seen the same positive effects….)

      I love your list of benefits, though. It’s much more personal than what I gave in the article, and it’s absolutely spot on. I feel exactly the same way.

      • Courtney Cantrell says:

        I *knew* that wasn’t just ear wax in there…

        Yes indeed, the writing group most definitely makes me happy. 🙂