Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mining 'Gold' From Writing Groups

Boyd and Penny
This Saturday at the Circle our guest will be Boyd Lemon, author, blogger, independent publisher and attorney.  As he travels across country from his home in St. Mary's, Georgia with his dog, Penny,  to visit family in California, Boyd will make a stop here in Chester County to share with us in Saturday's read-around at Wellington Square.  


Boyd has traveled the journey from the blank page to being the critically-acclaimed author of numerous memoirs and short stories.  I asked Boyd to share his thoughts on the value of writing groups like the Women's Writing Circle. ~ Susan

Writing groups, if not a must, should be one of any writer’s tools. They have benefited me in different ways.

Honest, respectful critiques of my writing by group members have been invaluable for both specific pieces and in general. The key is the first two words in the preceding sentence.
If the critiques are not honest, they are not helpful. Simply being told that what you wrote was good, awesome or amazing does not promote growth.

Many people are afraid to criticize, and a group of people who only compliment your writing is not worth your time. I have left such groups.
Less common, I am pleased to say, is the disrespectful critique. It is of no help to be told that what you wrote was crap, even if it was. Anyone who engages in such criticism should be asked to leave the group.

Also, consider the value of a group or an occasional meeting within a group in which no comments are allowed. You might be surprised at how liberating that is, and that sometimes you write better in that environment.

It is helpful to read your writing aloud to others. For some reason that I can’t claim to understand, I learn by listening to myself read aloud. It tends to highlight awkward phrasing or weak action descriptions.
Listening to what others write, both the good and the bad, is invaluable. I have learned a lot from other’s gold, as well as their weaknesses.

It’s just plain fun to share with like-minded people who are hooked on writing. That in itself is a good enough reason to join a writing group. If you can’t find one, start one yourself. I did that when I lived in Boston, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. You can start out small with just one or two other people.

Learn more about Boyd and his memoirs and thoughts about the unique challenges of writing memoir in this guest blog post he wrote for the Circle in March.  He will also be signing his memoirs Saturday, which I highly recommend.


Our writing prompt for Saturday:   "Write What Should Not Be Forgotten" ~ Isabel Allende    Using dialogue and two characters, write a scene (either from your own life or from your imagination) that you feel should not be forgotten. Try this in 1,000 words.

However, if this prompt does not suit, bring whatever your muse desires.  I look forward to sharing our writing together.


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