Are you struggling to write? Lacking inspiration? Feeling STUCK? The problem might not be writer’s block–it might be writer’s isolation. At least, this is how I started feeling after being stuck on my novel for several months. And, as you’ll see in the following article, it really took talking over the book with another person to help me get restarted on it.
How I Accidentally Started a Writers’ Club
For a while, one of my best guy friends and I had been hanging out at a local Denny’s on Sunday evenings, getting back in touch after life took us in very separate directions for a few years. It was a time for him to be away from work and away from home, a time where he could relax and we could catch up. But it slowly became less of a social thing and more focused on writing–I was working (mostly unsuccessfully) on my novel, and he wanted to hear more about it.
Once I started sharing my novel-in-progress with him, seeing what he thought of my ideas so far, I found out that he liked it, and was eager to read more. Thus, I was inspired to write more, and I found the process to be easier. (He is now one of my four beta readers, if you will–my parents and my boyfriend have also read or heard most of the novel, and they have all been wonderfully supportive.) Having this support system around me helped me start writing and keep writing–now, I had an audience to write for rather than just myself!
Inspiration is Catching!
I knew I was getting inspired from these informal brainstorming sessions, but admittedly, I didn’t expect for my guy friend to pick up the pen himself after a few months. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though–he’s been working on his own stories since he was 14 years old! I was overjoyed to see him starting to work with his old stories again, and so I encouraged him to keep working at it, to keep writing, and that I would read and help if I could. (Since I was an English major in college and did teach literature and composition for a few months in a middle school, I have a little bit of experience helping people to write.)
A Typical Writers’ Club Meeting
When we get together for our writers’ club meeting, we usually sit at our respective computers, typing away for a few minutes (or 30, LOL). Then, we switch computers, so that each of us can read what the other has written. We offer each other constructive criticism, ideas for expansion, and express interest–then we switch back, and revise as necessary.
This helps us both at the same time–we are both writer and reader, so we can easily switch back and forth between the two roles. Plus, reading each other’s work helps us both construct better-flowing stories, and the almost-instantaneous time between composition, reading, and revising makes the writing process speedier and more thorough. No more relying on my memory to figure out what to change in my story!
The Benefits So Far
This has certainly helped me make my novel much better, to have people around me who are interested in my novel and who offer their opinions on how the story is progressing. Only four people in this world besides me know what it’s about, and each of those four I would trust with my life as well as my life’s work. Plus, I’m getting and giving really good feedback; being part of the creative process in a couple of ways gives me new perspective on both of our efforts.
I never realized how much another person’s input would help me write–I have always been shy about showing my work to someone else, fearing their criticism. But in a way, doing this kind of writers’ club thing helps me brainstorm and not be so stressed about how the novel is going (or sometimes not going). Often, it’s fun to just sit there and talk out an idea over a fried cheese melt and a laptop computer; I get so much brain work done as I form the idea into words, and I also function as a sounding board for my friend’s ideas.
Have You Ever Tried a Writers’ Club?
Let me know in the comments!