Whether you're a novice writer or a veteran, the writing process is not easy. If you're in it for the long haul, the road will be fraught with lonely battles, unfinished pieces, and walls that block creative flow. But don't dismay, there is a place where these experiences are normalized and even welcomed - a writing group. Every writer at some point thinks about joining one. But like tofu, it's not for everyone. Before you connect with a group, here are some things to consider:
1. What are your writing needs?
Starting out, perhaps you are looking for motivation, a writing impetus to spur you on and get you writing. You might lack discipline and need accountability. Being in the presence of other writers can be highly stimulating and make you more productive. If you are further along in the process and begin to wonder if your work is any good or how readers will respond, you require honest critique and feedback. Therefore, a critique group might suit you best. Figuring out what your writing needs are first will help tremendously in your decision to join a group.
2. How much time do you have?
A major source of complaint among writers is time. Either they do not have it, or waste the time they do have to write. Either way, you have to consider how much free time you have to commit to a group. Groups can range from once a week to once a month and everything in between. Look at your schedule and seriously think about how much you can carve out to dedicate to writing practice.
3. Will the group help you grow?
Writing groups in general are designed to help you grow and become a better writer. But growth is not limited to groups; some get it from workshops or classes, a writing mentor or great editor, and so on. You must decide whether you think a group will significantly improve your writing and help your goals progress or not, depending on what the group offers and how it is structured.
Committing to a writing group does not confine you permanently; leave if it's not working out and try another one. In the end, the intent is to keep you writing. Whether you join a group or not, you are part of the web of writers everywhere breaking down walls and following their calling.