With love, to my Tribe.
I think writing is one profession that might need a twelve step program. (Hi, my name is Barbara, and I have a problem. My plot is too slow, my characters feel flat and I simply can’t HEAR my main character anymore.) If we were everyday Joes who spent days talking to ourselves and playing with pretend people, we’d probably be locked up somewhere. That’s why writers seek out support groups.
Beta readers, critique circle, writing posse, no matter what you want to call your support group, you should have one. Here are seven reasons why.
When your muse tempts you to spend hours reading the archives at Hyperbole and a Half, or play all the games at eyezmaze.com your group can help you resist. Just knowing that at the end of the week, a group of people are measuring the number of words you have written has power. Of course, if your group will also kick your butt if you play the part of a slacker, so much the better.
It takes more than one brain to have a storm. Especially if you’re stuck and talking yourself around in circles. Sure, you might bounce an idea or two off of your spouse or relatives, but for a true creative fest, you can’t beat a roomful (virtual or otherwise) of writers.
3. Cheerleading & Sympathy
When an idea tanks, your group will share in your pity party just long enough to get you over the hump, and then poke, nag, and cajole you until you give in and try again. (No little skirts or daring gymnastic feats required, unless your group is just into that.)
4. To help you murder your darlings (and bury the bodies)
Pet phrases, a scene that we absolutely love but doesn’t work for the story, that great description than is a tad too purple for the light of day, we all have them. Trusted fellow writers are just the people for helping you spot them, shoot them down and bury them in mass graves.
5. To prevent you from making costly mistakes
Mistakes like throwing your computer from the roof, or pounding dents in the drywall with your head when your inner editor insists that the last 10k you wrote should be printed on toilet tissue and flushed.
6. Serious head shrinkage
A good writer’s group knows how to deflate an overinflated ego without crushing your soul.
7. To be your Party Posse
Sure you can celebrate your successes with friends and family, but nobody will understand the euphoria that comes with publication like other writers who have been with you every step of the way.