Want to write? Find a support group

You can’t just write – you need an audience and you need feedback. To get these things, I started a writer’s group. It’s not a big group (we’re exactly 50/50 male/female and I’m the only woman) but we’re not looking to grow immediately. We’ll want to at some point, but we need to work out what we’re doing first.

Edinburgh has a good number of writers already and there are several writers groups in town. I had a look at the City of Literature website – they have a list – but didn’t find the perfect match. (I know people in Writer’s Bloc and don’t want to trespass. Is that weird? I’m not desperate for my own sandpit to play in though it might seem that way.) Edinburgh Creative Writing Club Meetup group also looks interesting and I’ve joined it to investigate.

The great thing about starting your own writer’s group is that you get to do it the way you want. The bad thing is that you have to make it all up. Also, you don’t have any cachet. We don’t get to read previews of successful author’s book because we don’t have any successful authors. We can’t ask that someone with a couple of books in the bag write something nice about us because we haven’t got books in the bag yet. But that will come.

You also don’t have many members. In our case, if one of us has a bad month, neither of us has a group to go to. If we were ten, that wouldn’t be the case.

Once you’re part of a writer’s group (or pair) you’re working with people who want you to succeed and who want to succeed themselves. That’s what it’s all about. Support, exchange of ideas and constructive criticism, spurring each other on. That’s what you need to keep motivated. Deadlines help too.

Story Shop: a challenge issued and accepted

My friend Helen Jackson was one of the Story Shop performers this year. Story Shop is a free Book Festival event run by UNESCO City of Literature. It gives local talent an opportunity to read their story to an audience. They also get a day pass to the writer’s retreat, the tent where all the authors hang out. (How cool is that?)

Helen had a great day and a good turn out for the reading of her two-part story Drawing the Line. When I quizzed her about it over coffee she issued me with a challenge:

Next year, you do it.

How could I say no? I needed a definate and ambitious goal.

All you have to do to be eligible to submit a story to Story Shop is get something published. Then you need to write a story that the Story Shop editors want to feature. That’s all. Yeah.

Getting started

Step the first is to get published. You don’t have to have a book published (phew) but need to have something in a publication where they have selection criteria. An anthology works, as does printed magazines or other sources where they pay for your work. So, over the next few months I’ll be tidying up and submitting short stories. If I don’t get published by the end of May next year, I won’t be eligible to apply for Story Shop. Must meet that goal.

Wish me luck.