5 Reasons A Writer's Group Isn't Scary

by - October 25, 2014

5 Reasons A Writer's Group Isn't Scary - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
The invitation came from an english teacher in town. The mother of a girl I grew up with. The winner of the 2013 Word Award for best historical novel. A lovely, lovely, sweetheart of a woman.

My first reaction?


It all comes back to this introspective psyche of a writer: writing is a personal journey. What if the thing that meant the world to me as I poured it out onto my keyboard means nothing to the group of writers I present it to?

We've all seen those episodes of American Idol, right? When the poor chap in the unfortunate cowboy shirt tells the camera how amazing he is and how he's certainly destined for stardom and how he quit his job and lived in his car to be able to stand before those judges and how he opens his mouth and all that comes out is noise? Sure, he's got the world on a string when he's locked in his Chevette belting out Ring of Fire but bring that secret moment out on a world stage? It's a recipe for disaster and slain dreams.

What if I am that guy? What if everything I write is drivel and I stand on The Writer's Group Stage and I get laughed right off it?


Because self-doubt is part of the process and part of being human.

But so is facing your fears.

So I went. And I'm happy to report 5 examples of just how wrong I was.

5 Reasons A Writer's Group Isn't Scary - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

1. No one is there is destroy your dream - they are there to support it.  I was walking into a group who all knew each other, who have worked together in the past, who have a firm understanding of each others writing styles, goals, and genres. I was walking into a group of mature writers, me being the youngest by probably twenty years. I was walking into the unknown but I was given the warmest greeting - this tiny woman {she must be in her seventies} stood and wrapped her arms around me like I was her granddaughter and held me like she believed in me even though she didn't yet know my name.  Sure, hugs from strangers are weird but let's be honest - a seventy-year old can do whatever she wants if she's being sweet about it.

2. They actually want to hear about your writing journey. When you're passionate about something, you want to talk about it. When you can talk about it with someone who shares the same passion you find yourself arriving at a kind of social symmetry that is basically euphoric. I hold back when it comes to talking to most friends and family about writing because I'm convinced I'll bore them to death - but this leaves a gaping hole. Something that brings you joy needs to be talked about. Joy is worthless if it can't be shared!

5 Reasons A Writer's Group Isn't Scary - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

3. They are a wealth of information. Groups are made up of all kinds - from the amateur struggling to make time between work and family {me} to the retired school teacher who can now write all day {and who had a shipment of her new books delivered as we were all sitting around her living room!}. I'm shy during the first crack at anything so I spent much of our first meeting with my feet tucked up under me just soaking it all in but I have no doubt, as I loosen up and get more comfortable with these people I will be pillaging them for advice and ideas and 'where oh where should I submit this divine piece of prose I have so lovingly crafted?'

4. They are encouragers and motivators. A writer's group isn't about tearing people down - it's about building them up, helping them hone their craft, aiding in the search for the perfect word. When I mentioned with trepidation that I was considering signing up for NaNoWriMo they were all 'Do it!' 'What have you got to lose?' 'Next time we see you, you'll be reading us pieces from that project!'

5. There are snacks. Basically it's a tea party that leaves you feeling ready to conquer Everest. 

5 Reasons A Writer's Group Isn't Scary - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I am so glad I went. I think this could be the catalyst to a real beginning. I needed a fire lit under me - some motivation to which I can be accountable.  

Well friends, I've found it!

And, because I don't want to be the loser who shows up at the next meeting and says, 'yeah...I just didn't think I could do it..." I am an official NaNoWriMo participant. This means, by the end of November, I will be a pale, weeping, exhausted, caffeine infused troll who can {hopefully} say 'I just wrote 50,000 words, y'all!'

Unfortunately, this may mean my blog - this dear, happy place - may get a little dusty and neglected but I'm going to work very hard over the next week to schedule posts for November. My plan is to dig through my archives and rework some old posts that you've probably never seen before and also smatter through a slow reveal of my new writing room. 

Please bear with me. And don't abandon me. Your quiet devotion to my feeble ramblings is a beautiful gift and I would be loathe to ever lose it.

If you want to check in on my NaNo progress during November just click the NaNoWriMo button in my top menu and you'll find a handy little word counter there that's keeping track for me.  Feel free to kick me in the butt if I'm falling behind.

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  1. Yay!! I'm so excited for you! Both for your venture with NaNo and the writer's group. I love watching you journey along your passion's path. You are inspiring.

    1. Here's hoping I can pull it off! Thanks for your kind words.

  2. You got this. Don't worry about the blog getting dusty. That's the thing about dust. Easily wiped away. No scrubbing or elbow grease required. Just channel the John Wayne inside of you, and on occasion throw in some Annie Oakley. Then shoot for the stars!

    1. Love that! Thanks for the vote of confidence :) I've got some posts scheduled already so I'm not too worried... Look out stars - here I come!


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