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My Writing Peer Groups Offer More Than Any Class

It’s amazing what you can learn from a group of your peers when you take the time to discuss your knowledge, beliefs, and practices. I find this to be true in both my business life and writing life. While I am a writer through and through, I must maintain a day job in order to make a living.

I belong to a few different writing groups. They all teach me something valuable on a regular basis. I attend a writers retreat twice a year and always manage to learn something there, too. In fact, I had an epiphany during my last retreat that changed the direction of my novel. It was all precipitated by a conversation with a couple of kind writers who helped me brainstorm and talk it all out.

While all of my groups are important to me, there’s one that challenges me at every turn. My critique group has helped me grow as a writer more than any other group or class I’ve ever had. We meet once a month. We send up to 20 pages each and meet two weeks later to discuss our thoughts.

We spend around five hours going through each story page by page. It can be grueling at times, but the discussions that are sparked often translate to pure gold on the page. Even if nothing noteworthy is suggested, my fellow writers always catch a few small things that I miss and offer a better way to articulate my plot. Auto correct is a writer’s nemesis, and my critique group occasionally finds interesting words that are nowhere near what I intended to type. While I do proofread my work, it seems I always miss one or two boo boos.

The trick to getting the most out of any type of group is to be open to the wisdom and instincts of my peers. It’s difficult to take friendly criticism sometimes and even more difficult to accept harsh feedback. I don’t always agree with the suggestions presented, but I consider them all carefully. I’m never so arrogant as to dismiss another writer’s honest feedback without proper deliberation. That’s the beauty of a group such as mine – the other writers offer their input, but I’m under no obligation to accept those suggestions.

We all have egos, but if we put them aside, we may just allow some greatness to flourish within.

Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! If you’ve enjoyed my little seeds of wisdom and joy, please subscribe to Ozarks Maven, Like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.

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