I’ve never really been very sociable. It’s one of the things that attracted me to writing, the thought of sitting alone at a desk all day, chewing a pencil. In reality much writing is collaborative, particularly in drama, and a lot of writers have to do other things to make ends meet. I’m not at that stage, but I recognise the need to do something beyond writing things and sending them off.
I tried to join a writers’ group in Wolverhampton a few years ago. I heard they can be useful for getting support and feedback; and I thought it might be a good way to network – something else I’m not keen on (what with not being very sociable and everything). I have to say, it wasn’t worth it. The group met monthly on a Saturday, for three hours. The journey took half-an-hour each way. I only went twice, but I was told the format was the same very month: a writing prompt, for a ten minute warm-up, followed by another prompt with forty-five minutes of writing. So that’s four hours away from my own writing projects in exchange for fifty five minutes of writing something else. But at least there was feedback.
The feedback was well-meaning, but not particularly constructive. And here’s the rub: it wasn’t feedback on the projects I was actually interested in. Really, it was just a social club for people who want to write, and as I think I’ve already mentioned I’m not really that sociable.
I’m not knocking writers’ groups or the people who organise them. I’d be very interested in a group that allows serious writers to give each other thought-out critiques of work in progress. Ultimately, I think that the group I joined is part of the creative-writing-as-a-hobby phenomenon. Again, I don’t want to knock it, but it’s a bit too much like bowls for my taste.