Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writers Circles and Readers

One of the first recommendations I received from an experienced writer was to join a good writers group and a writers circle.  Let me define a writers circle as writers working in similar genres who read and critique each others' work.  Because nobody can objectively read their own material, we all need feedback from others.  What comprises a good writers circle?  First of all, they should be the best writers you can connect with. This is tough if you’re a rookie like me, because what’s in it for the seasoned writers?   What do you bring to the table to help them?  Second, if you are expecting to sell your work, the circle members need to provide solid critiques.  My first mentor cautioned against groups that are mutual admiration societies.  They don't improve your work. Third, the group members have to be interested in helping each other, not stroking their own egos by being overly critical.  There are plenty of other ways to get discouraged on the long slog from inspiration to publication. 
If you are not fortunate enough to be in a good writers circle, you have to put in some extra effort to find readers.  It may be necessary to hire professionals. Here are some readers I’ve been able to enlist: people from or through our writers group, i.e. my first mentor and Deidre; the children’s librarian at our local library; a professional editor, for a fee; my children and grandchildren, admittedly not objective; a friend’s son who is about to graduate with a major in English.  I’ve had different mixes of these folks for my various projects.  Contrary to advice from Henry Miller - work on one project until it’s completed - I work on one draft of a project then let it age a bit.  The idea is to return with a fresh set of eyes, thus improving my own objectivity.
Next week I’ll discuss my various projects and who has provided what type of feedback for them. Confession, I’m short on time this week due to a hobby.  My Mustang car club is hosting its 32nd Annual Spring Show & Shine on Sunday, and as co-chair I have a myriad of last minute details… and a car to prep. 
p.s. This week’s book review: A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction.

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