Hey guys! Today I have something a bit different for you: a guest post!
I reached out to my good friend, Enette Venter of Enette’s World, to see if she would like to write a post for you lovely people out there. (You know, all twelve of you.) I wrote a post for her blog, once, so why not? After a bit of thought, she decided she wanted to talk about her experience within writing groups and encourage you to consider partaking in one!
So without further ado, I pass the mic to you, Enette!
I’d like to give a big thank you to Ayli for letting me write this for her blog despite the fact that she knows I’m odd.
A writing group isn’t just a tool for writers to use, it’s a relationship. So I’m just going to go into it and share with you how I got my writing group.
For NaNoWriMo 2014 I convinced my parents to let me go to a ‘write in’ at my local mall. I knew that a lot of the people I was going to meet were older than me and I realized that I wasn’t going to fit in all that well because I still had this picture in my head of experienced writers. What I hadn’t realized was that this was a brand new writing group that had never gotten together before and that didn’t have any published writers in it. So I got all dressed up in my pencil skirt and high heels and I went to this coffee shop that is quite beyond my allowance’s price range. I sat down and one by one the rest of my writing group showed up and shattered the image I had in my head.
To give you the general idea of how my writing group looks I’ll tell you that we have a very hyper, curly-haired coffee addict and her husband who is much taller than her; we have an opinionated biker with a tattoo on his head and his wife, who loves talking about everyone else’s writing despite the fact that there is a chance she has written more than the rest of us combined. Then we have our blonde newlywed who is a big fan of Harry Potter and who jumps from idea to idea, never capable of staying interested long enough to finish anything. Once you add me—a strong-willed teen girl who stands up for the authors of books such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey—then you really do get an odd bunch of people.
By the end of that NaNoWriMo we agreed to try getting together again throughout the year but we never did. I did, however, decide that I want to be a writer, started blogging seriously, and finished another novel. I made friends with other writers both online and offline.
I introduced one of my friends to NaNoWriMo and when the writing group sent out the message that it’s time for us to get together again, I was exhilarated by the challenge of the next NaNoWriMo. So there I was at the mall again in yet another neat little skirt and my new high heels. That month I knew that I would be able to write my novel with or without the help of others, but I still went. We discussed our books and the exams we were busy with. That month my focus wasn’t on what they could do for me but instead just on them.
I started noticing how the couple with the tattoos would signal the end of the meeting so they could go get food for their children. I noticed how the coffee addict was still busy with the same novel she had been busy with the previous year and how her husband kept telling her that she had to finish it so he could finally, after years of waiting, read the great novel she had been brainstorming. The newlywed, as I already said, kept jumping from idea to idea, so while she never really finished her own novel she was still constantly supporting the other people’s novels. She was always the first to ask what the others are writing and at every meeting she was the first to ask how far everyone had come. At the end of the month, I was the one who arranged a night of writing dangerously [Ayli’s note: That is a NaNoWriMo thing. It’s a day where you have a write-in and spend all night trying to write as many words of your story as humanly possible] and encouraged a friend from a different town to finish her novel. (It was amazing! She wrote 11,000 words on her last day! I’m super proud!)
So there we were, at our last meeting, and we promised to see each other again throughout the next year. So when January came we sent out a general “lets meet up again,” but soon everyone cancelled. They had jobs to get back to, I had school, and NaNoWriMo wasn’t there to motivate us. A few weeks later, I asked again, “Who’s coming?” and they said they were. I waited for them, drinking a chocolate milkshake so thick it felt as if something in my head would pop each time I took a sip. Fifteen minutes later, no one was there yet and I could feel my heart sinking to my stomach. I sent them a message, asking if we were still meeting. Five minutes later, the reply came that they had forgotten.
Of course they had. Why, between work, social lives and parenting, would they have remembered to come meet a teen girl in the mall?
So they rescheduled for the next week, but I knew they weren’t going to show up and so I didn’t either. It was around this time that I fell into a heavy writing slump, where every time I sat down in front of a keyboard my fingers started to feel heavy and my breath started coming in short and raspy. We didn’t bother rescheduling again. That was, until my dad told me about a writing workshop for people my age. Can you imagine that? Writer’s my age in my town? I could hardly believe it, but I went anyway.
There I was once again the outsider because of the fact that all those children went to the same school while I was home schooled. Not to worry, though, because I’m rather good at squeezing myself into other people’s business and talking to them as if we have been friends since the first grade. So there I met two hipsters: a girl who instantly told me that she thought I’m cool (I’m not used to this) and a boy who was interested in NaNoWriMo.
Getting their numbers, I was ready to try my writing group again. I messaged them: “How about we have a meeting, I have someone interested in NaNoWriMo.” They agreed and I sent them reminders… a lot of reminders. We met and I introduced them to the boy and they hit it off, talking about tattoos and jobs. We arranged a second meeting and once again I sent them reminders upon reminders. We met again and we decided to meet every second week. Now I send them two or three reminders between every meeting. I purposefully look for plugs in every restaurant with bottomless coffee and I think of questions to ask in the meetings beforehand.
You see, I realized that just like every other relationship, you can’t expect everything from the other participant. You need to put in your own effort. No writing group is perfect and mine isn’t even always about writing, but I put in the effort anyway because while none of us are professionals, we still need to get together because in the end writing isn’t something you should be tackling alone.
Now I know not a lot of people have the option of getting an in-person writing group, but that’s what forums on the internet are for. Here I plan on saying it again: writing groups aren’t just a tool for writers to use but a relationship. If you don’t have other writers in your life then I challenge you, right now, to go look for other writers and befriend them. Good places to start are online forums such as Figment, where I met Ayli, or looking for a Facebook group for writers in your area. [Ayli’s note: Or writers anywhere! Enette and I certainly aren’t in each other’s area, let alone each other’s continent, but we’re still capable of understanding each other and working well together.]
Thank you for reading this guest post and thank you again to Ayli for letting me write it. And, because I haven’t really said this before, thank you Ayli for being a great blogging buddy. [You’re welcome!]
Enette Venter is a teenage writer and blogger, stationed over at Enette’s World. She’s sweet, she’s sassy, and she’s oh so classy.