Posted by: Edwin H Rydberg
In the high-powered, competitive writing market of the modern world, an author can no-longer sit, secluded, in their dingy room hammering away at their keyboard and reasonably expect to tap out that master piece. Modern writing is a very social, cooperative endeavour and virutally all traditionally published material, especially genre works, have been read and re-read by many people (mothers, best friends, slush readers, agents, editors, marketing). Even that fairly rare, stunning debut novel is undoubtedly a work of many years and many rewrites and rereads over many, many years.
Getting published ‘the right way’ takes time, effort and a lot of feedback. [incidentally, ‘the right way’ doesn’t always mean traditional publishing, but it does mean having your piece edited and revised until it’s the best it can be]
The only way anyone improves at anything is through feedback. So, while you’re starting out on your masterpiece, the best way to improve quickly, apart from reading and practicing advice from books, is to find a good writing circle for critiquing.
And the most important thing a writing circle can do for you is critique. I can not stress this enough. If youi’re serious about improving your writing, you need to have honest, constructive feedback, ideally by people who are also serious about the craft.
This is an important point because writing circles fall into two basic categories.
1) Reading Groups (read-around).
Great for practicing your reading aloud and for socializing.
Not great for getting useful critiques that you can take home and digest.
2) Milford Critiquing Groups.
So called, because they were based on the Milford style, where members submit a a chapter ahead of the meeting schedule. The others read it and give their comments at the meeting.
Great for meaningful critiquing.
Not great if you have a sensitive ego.
As you probably guessed, I’m a big fan of Milford-style critiquing. However, regardless of your preference, belonging to any group is a valuable experience, even if it is just to share your lonely experiences with other writers.
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d list a few of the UK writing groups I know of, mostly emphasizing the big two and the Yorkshire ones in the region. A more comprehensive list can be found at the National Association of Writing Groups (www.nawg.co.uk, although not all are listed here, because there is a fee for listing).
The big two (in my opinion) are:
Must have paid publications to join.
Meet once monthly.
Anyone can join.
A few of my local groups:
York Novelists Society (a group I’m in)
new group, style uncertain at the moment
So go on, get out there, meet other writers, show off your baby. No one will bite. And whatever your preference, you’ll eventually find a place you fit in.