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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

The Benefits of Writers' Groups
by Chitra Soundar

Writing is a forlorn activity. In spite of the librarians, editors and others we meet as we proceed, the actual writing has to be done all alone. Some do it in enchanted islands; some do it in their study. Some of us do it wherever we find space--kitchen tables and park benches. Whether we do it in the midst of nature or within the confined spaces of our homes, writing has to be done all alone.

Even if we could manage the writing all alone, whom do we talk to about characters that don't shape well? The scenes are getting dreary. The protagonist is not able to save his family, because we don't seem to know how.

Even if we have finished writing, whom would I show it to? Would my spouse listen to my stories after I finished? Would the family be frank and tell us that what we have written is rotten? Even if they did, would we give credit to their remarks?

The answer to all the above questions is Writers' Groups. Writers and aspiring writers get together to discuss topics that would take them one more step to publishing.

Who forms them?
Most writer groups are formed by a person who is looking for a group and couldn't find one. Sometimes libraries and writer's associations also start their own writing groups.

Why should a writer join a group?
Normally an aspiring writer joins the group so that he or she can benefit from the experience of a more experienced professional in the group. It is also a forum to share one's knowledge and tricks of the trade. If the group is predominantly new writers, it gives them an opportunity to share their work with others.

As we talk to other people who are involved in a similar endeavor, we understand how difficult it could get. Or we can discuss and pool ideas for chronic writer-ailments like blocks, rewrites and the fear of using computers.

Sometimes we find people who have joined this group are not writers but they are interested in the craft. They want to know what goes on inside the head of a writer. They want to be among people who create.

What is the upside?
Sharing triumphs that are small to the outside world but enormously important to a writer is the biggest benefit. Someone might have received a positive response to a query. Someone might have finished a chapter they were unable to finish earlier. Sometimes the triumph is as small as writing for a week continuously. The joy of sharing it with people who appreciate such things, make it sweeter.

Dealing with tragedies of rejection, rewrites or blank paper and messy plots can be too much if you are alone. In the midst of like-minded souls, you find that everyone is more or less on the same boat.

It does great things to morale to find others are in similar if not same boats. Other tragedies can be lessons to learn from.

What is the downside?
Needless to say, there are some disadvantages. A writer should be on guard and wary, if the group is not trustworthy.

Chitra Soundar is a writer whose work is enriched by her varied professional experience and inspired by the ethnic culture of India. An IT professional by vocation, for the last 11 years, excelling in IT Education, Career counseling and Software development, her interest in storytelling became
evident when she won the first prize for story telling at the age of seven. Chitra's first poems were made up a few minutes before recording and were presented in the state radio by her younger sister, when the siblings were still in primary school. Her mother is a playwright and drama actor, who writes and directs humorous plays in vernacular Tamil for children and adults.









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