By Sandy Tritt
Much of becoming a proficient writer is based upon experience (actually doing the writing) and on learning the craft of writing. However, it is difficult to see our own writing with the same clarity that an outsider can see it. So, there comes a time when we need to seek advice from others.
Many writers turn to their spouse, lover or best friend. While this person may have our best interests at heart, he or she (unless also a writer) will rarely have the insight we need to make our writing better. So what is a writer to do?
· Join a writer’s group. Check your local library, check the listings in the Arts and Humanities section of your newspaper, or check the Internet to see if a writer’s group exists in your area. A good writer’s group will consist of at least one or two people who are knowledgeable in the art of writing and who are interested in sharing that knowledge with others. The members of a good writer’s group will be constructive in all criticism, and never sarcastic, egotistical or jealous.
· Create your own writer’s group. Join up with a couple of your writer friends and meet regularly to review one another’s work. Use the same precautions in creating this group as listed above.
· Take a Creative Writing class at your local college.
· Attend as many writer conferences and workshops as possible. Again, pay attention to notices at libraries, art centers and schools for information about upcoming events. Also watch for advertisements in writing magazines or scan the Internet.
· Submit your writing for a professional edit and critique. Find these services in the classified section of writer magazines or by scanning the Internet for “manuscript critique.” These services most often charge, and the rates can vary greatly. Some things to look for: does the fee include both line-by-line editing and an overview critique? Are follow-up conferences provided? Are references available? What are the qualifications of the provider? Do you feel comfortable with the person?
In the best of all worlds, every new writer would have a special mentor—someone who is knowledgeable in the art and the craft of writing, someone who has already gone through the growing stages, someone who has a special interest in the new writer, and someone who is willing to encourage, challenge and teach that new writer. Keep your eyes open, and don’t be embarrassed to ask.
On the left sidebar you’ll find numerous recommended writing groups and sites. You’ll also find high quality editors on this blog (namely Darlene and Edie who work hard to teach everyone here the craft).
Have any of you started a writing group, joined a writing group, or are looking for a writing group? Please share your experiences and suggestions with us!