Having recently been a guest speaker at a writers group (or writers circle if you rather) I was amazed at just how useful this underutilised resource is for the aspirant author.
Writing is a lonely job. Hours spent behind your computer with no-one to keep you company aside from your pet whose loyalty has been purchased by a full meal-bowl. Even as the person putting in the hours behind the screen It can be hard to take writing seriously as a full-time profession. Even harder is how loved-ones and others around you struggle to acknowledge your work as just that, work.
Everything is easier in a group
Drawing parallels between writing and other areas of life, how much harder for example is exercise outside a group? The same reason the avid jogger loves being surrounded by his fellow runners so to does the author benefit from the company of other writers. Similarly remember how school work always seemed that much easier when the laborious task of leafing through textbooks was done en-masse?
Why join a writers group?
Joining a local writers group puts you in touch with fellow journeymen who understand the pain felt by a writer who is struggling to find their voice.
- They too doubt themselves and the quality of their writing.
- They too experience the struggle to be taken seriously as a professional.
- They also have mind-numbing and soul-sapping day jobs that serve as a safety-net whilst they try and reach recognition by tapping away at the keyboard.
As an author who is trekking through the publishing wilderness in search of fame, fortunes and a permanent coffee-drip these communities are an invaluable resource to bounce ideas, find beta readers, learn from guest speakers and read extracts from your manuscript for an honest critique. Often these writers circles will have access to trusted publishing service-providers, from professional editors through to the talented cover designers.
My first experience of a writers group came through searching Meetup.com where I found the group of Sharp Pencils we met at a restaurant in Northcliff, Johannesburg. The meeting was a great and easy way to meet other authors who had all sorts of useful advice on the writing processes.
Where can I find our South African writer groups?
So where can you find these group of serious scribes?
Searching Google for some answers as to where our South African author did not yield great results. I searched beyond the first page of results (*Gasp*) on search terms such as “Writers groups in South Africa” and “Writers circles in South Africa” however did not find a comprehensive listing or portal. It seems that our writers group exist in isolation without a central database or repository.
Here is a list of resources for South African writers groups that I did find from my time on Google. (I can’t vouch for the validity of the websites.)
More on the benefits of writing groups: http://writeitsideways.com/how-writing-groups-can-work-for-you/
Know a great writers group?
If you would like to mention your local writing group, please leave a comment for other readers below. Alternatively drop us an email with the details of your group and we would happily list the details of your writers group on our blog.