Ahhh, writer groups…
I both love them and hate them. They are 100% great for connecting with like-minded people, getting writing advice, and learning a thing or two about a thing or two. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of pitfalls. With that in mind, I’ve put together a mini-survival guide for new and old authors that are diving deep into the netherworld of interwebs writing groups.
1. You’re getting unfiltered advice.
Some of that advice is good and some of that advice is shit. Thank the people that help you out and ignore the rest. Some people just have nothing better to do than expressing their opinion about everything…including things they have no clue about.
2. Be clear about what you’re looking for in a group.
Not all writer’s groups/workshops/etc. are created equal. Some are full of noobs just noobing all over the place and some are full of pros who don’t want to give out their secret sauce. Then there are those that are worth their salt and your time. You have to decide if you’re just looking for a cool hangout spot online or whether you’re actually interested in learning something and pick based on that.
3. When giving advice, realize that some people will remain willfully ignorant.
Yes, people want your advice if you have something meaningful to add, so don’t just lurk in the background. Speak up and let your voice be heard. With that being said, it seems there are some people who ask for advice just so they can argue with you. Yup, it’s as annoying as you can possibly imagine it to be. It’s counter-productive and not worth your time to engage with these people. They typically have small minds to match their lack of experience.
4. Not everyone will like you or what you have to say.
As a follow-up to point three, please realize that there will be plenty of people to tell you how wrong you are even though you know your method works because it’s worked for you. These people are like herpes — they randomly pop up, cause a rash, and disappear after a bit. They will keep engaging you as long as you engage them. Your best bet here is to just ignore them. Much like having a thick skin when it comes to being critiqued, you should also develop a thick skin when putting your opinion out there.
5. Opinions are like assholes.
Everyone has one and some of them stink. Also, some of them are bleached. I’m taking this to a weird place but the bottom line is that opinion is just opinion and you can take it or leave it.
6. Try not to argue.
If you get into arguments online you’re simply wasting time that would be better off spent writing. You’re probably stressing yourself out and spinning your wheels to boot. You will not convince anyone on the internet they’re wrong if they believe they’re right. That’s not how the internet works and, again, people can be dumb sometimes. Best advice here is to ignore and move on as well.
7. Don’t get trapped!
Too often you will find yourself using these groups as a tool of procrastination. STTTTAAAAAAAAHHHHPPP!!!! If you find that you’re spending more time at the keyboard trying to help others instead of yourself then you’ll soon find that you can help no one because you will fail. You have to write. You have to write your story or your article, not a cleverly produced FaceSpace post. Remember that these writer groups are meant to help you become a better writer and not a place where you spend all your time doing nothing.
Writer groups are a good way to learn new things, network, and take a break from the solitary life that is writing. Just remember that the important thing is the writing itself. Until next time, fly safe out there. o7