I’ve just signed up for a writing group for the first time. I know that, as a writer, I should have done this years ago – one of the most useful things you can do is to get others’ feedback on your stories – but I’ve never got round to it before now.
Part of the reason is personal circumstances. I don’t live near any of my long-standing friends who are writers. We sometimes offer opinions on each others’ work, but that’s mostly through sending completed stories for feedback before editing, not workshopping on discussing works in progress. So I couldn’t join a local writing group with people I know.
The other factor is courage. Despite being published, and regularly throwing opinions out through this blog, I’m instinctively nervous about what others will say about my work. I expect we all are to some extent. A story is an extension of your personality, so even if you want to know how to improve it there’ll always be part of you that doesn’t want to go through hearing someone else’s criticism. That little part of you that, however much you try to put it in its place, still cringes away when it sees the red pen on the pages, or the notes in an electronic edit.
The answer in the end was just to pull together some courage and sign up for a group through a forum I’m on. It’s not the same as discussing stuff in person, but I’m sure it’ll be really valuable, and a good chance to get to know some other writers. If nothing else, I’ve tested my own limits and passed.
Now to go find a story I can bear to see criticised…