A playgroup for creativity. That’s what a writer’s group is.
When my oldest was six months old and we were very new to town, I joined a playgroup. The goals were clear-- meet other parents, socialize my kid, and ultimately figure out: am I doing this parenting thing right?
After a few meet-ups, I came to a comforting conclusion. No one has “the” answers but some people can inspire you to be and do your best, which is monumentally helpful when you find yourself alone in unchartered waters all day – every day.
Writing, like parenting, requires a stream of steady, purposeful acts of devotion. It’s the million little moments that no one sees or knows or cares about, except for you, that ultimately breathes life into your work.
Writing is also an act of solitude. Which is ironic because the whole purpose of writing is connection. Good writing screams: Do you hear me? Can you relate?!
Which is where a good writer’s groups come in. I belong to two. One meets every other week in an inspired barn in the town where I live. The second meets once a month in our town’s library.
The monthly library crew writes for children. We are a funny bunch, equal part wit and determination. Participants come from all parts of Connecticut with varying interests, writing styles and goals. And we sit dutifully in a teal colored room with colonial (circa 1980) decor sharing what we’ve come up with, in the hopes of sparking creative minds much younger than our own.
Last month I read a fresh piece. A jam packed, barely edited, start of a story that’s been rattling around my brain for a long time. As I opened up my folder and began, my ego innards were asking,“Why did you choose this, you have so many pieces, why read this seed of a thing?”
But that’s sharing. Putting yourself out there. And just like the days of sipping coffee while swapping tales of toddler tantrums, the drive for connection is universal. We all want to know: “Am I heading in the right direction? Are my efforts worth something?”
In true form, my library group came through. With encouragement. Suggestion. Prodding. Afterwards members handed me scraps of paper. It’s customary in our group to provide a nugget of written, formal feedback.
The next morning, coffee in hand, I glanced through the comments. Remnants of the night before, nudges for the new day.
As I opened the final piece, a smile widened across my face. There were no polite suggestions about character development or plot or word usage.
The paper said simply:
Just the inspiration I needed.
And that’s exactly what I did, nestled in my cozy corner chair in the coffee shop where I write. Alone with all the other wanderers out there.