This past Sunday I had the rare treat of getting together for brunch with some of the members of Women Who Write, a community of women writers based in northern New Jersey. I had to drive two hours to get to the brunch since I live in far southern New Jersey, but I wouldn’t have missed it. Within Women Who Write, there are a large number of women with hugely varying interests in writing: poetry, children’s books, picture books, young adult, middle grade, fiction, screenplays, and the list goes on.
Members of Women Who Write are invited to join critique groups in which members submit pieces of writing for feedback by other writers. I am a member of the only online critique group in Women Who Write (all the other groups meet in person), and the members of my group write in several different genres. We are a mix of women of different ages with different careers and interests, but we have one passion that brings us all together…writing. We submit our pieces of writing once a month and a few weeks later each member of the group submits her critique of each submission.
At brunch on Sunday we got talking about the importance of being in a group, and I was thinking on the drive home that being part of a group, even if it’s just a group of two, can have a huge affect on a person.
First, being in a group makes you accountable to people other than yourself. There have been times when the women in my group, myself included, have been unable to submit because of other commitments or schedules that are way too full. But each of us feels like we’re letting the group down when we can’t submit. We have made a commitment and we know that in order for the group to work optimally for everyone, we all need to submit.
Second, being in a group helps you set and keep goals. Each November brings the NaNoWriMo challenge. For those of you who don’t know what this is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it is an opportunity for writers from all over the world to challenge themselves to write a novel in one month. The goal is 50,000 words. The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that the challenge is the same for everyone. Not everyone enters the challenge intending to write a novel; lots of people join just to give themselves a kick-start, to see how many words they can write if they really focus for an entire month. But the goal of 50,000 words is there if people wish to give it a try. The amount of online support from the writing community is enormous, and that support is what helps many writers keep pushing towards and even beyond their goal.
Third, being in a group encourages you to meet people you might not otherwise have met. I am a member of a Pilates studio where I have met some wonderful people in my community that I would probably not normally run into in the course of my daily activities. They have become an important part of my day, and I miss seeing and talking to them when I can’t get to the studio for a day or two. They are a diverse group of people with interests and hobbies different from mine, and it’s great to get out of my own world every day and talk to these wonderful people.
Finally, being in a group is healthy! Whether I’m going to the Pilates studio or a brunch in northern New Jersey (or meeting other people while I’m walking my dog or going to a PTA meeting or the list goes on and on), I’m getting out and talking to others and maybe moving- just a little- out of my comfort zone. It’s great for my attitude and keeps me from getting bogged down by the things that go on in my own day. And on the rare occasion that I don’t enjoy my time in a group, well, that just helps me to appreciate the time I spend alone at my desk even more. And that’s good, too.
Are you part of any groups? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Until next week,
6 thoughts on “The Power of More-Than-One”
I will give the NaNoWriMo a try, but I am not positive that I will be able to finish the challenge. I am also a member of a Pilates studio. I enjoy doing Pilates because it gives me a time where I can think. I am not in any writing/critique groups at the moment, but as soon as I join one, I will let you know.
Definitely try NaNoWriMo! Get one of your friends to do it with you! And you don’t have to finish…just trying it is the point. And let me know if you join a critique group! Thanks for visiting!
NaNoWriMo was my first real writing group, and I have loved it to bits. I actually became an official ML for the first time last year, but I’ve been helping out for about four years, and when I went on exchange for university my home ML sent a message to the ML over there to tell (warn?) her that I was coming and ask her to look after me. I’m still friends with the people I met over there. It’s so lovely to be part of a relatively low-pressure group who are together because we love writing and just understand each other.
I actually haven’t had the guts to try NaNoWriMo, but I have friends who have done it and they can’t wait for November to do it again. Maybe I’ll give it a go this year. I assume by ML you mean Miss Literati? It sounds like a great concept. And isn’t it great to be part of something larger than yourself? It’s a great opportunity to learn and share and grow. I checked out your blog and I enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!
Definitely give it a go, it’s huge fun and the sharing is definitely the best bit of it. ML is the Municipal Liaison who organises write-ins and mans the local forums as the regional administrator.
And thanks for visiting!
Thanks for enlightening me about ML. A write-in sounds fun!