A good friend suggested I join her writing group nine years ago. She thought it would be a good fit. Now, I had belonged to writing groups before and I was doubtful that was true, but she insisted and I went.
She was right. It has been a good fit, but you have to know I am an introvert. People laugh when I say that, but there is a big difference between being shy and being an introvert. I am not shy; I can be rather bold, but introvert is often mistaken with shyness. After a day out with people, I have to retreat into my shell and recover. It’s like my soul has been depleted and I need time to let it refill itself. Thank goodness this group only meets once a week. Plenty of time to gear up for the following Monday night meeting.
I have taught “writing” all my life, both to children and adults, but this writing group has taught me so much more than I ever thought it could. It has taught me facets of myself that I had not explored.
I learned that I am a terrible writer unless I have an outcome and an outline to guide me. The alternative is a terrible writing mess that makes everyone and everything suffer. Until I learned this about myself, I wasted reams and reams of paper with gobbledygook. The thought of the garbage (read that with a French accent, if you please) I presented to my critique group that first year still makes me wince. If I know what I want the reader to “get” after they read my pages, then I can set out to write a better manuscript.
I learned to perfect my writing voice and that can only happen with writing practice. Frequent exercise on paper perfects the product, and I have noticed improvement in my development after nine years of daily and weekly exercise. I must add, I also know I do my better writing in the morning and I, sometimes, have to discipline myself to sit down and write, whether I feel like it or not.
Something else I have learned in my life as a writer is obligation. I self-imposed a deadline on myself when I started my blog almost eight years ago. I promised readers I would write once a week if they promised to read what I offered. I also felt an obligation to offer something worth the time they invest in reading it.
One last thing, I have learned from my writing adventure in the last few years is about my persona. Or better yet, personas. No, I am not schizophrenic (well, maybe I am. I heard true schizophrenics do not know they are), but when I meet readers in person, they think the person who writes the blog or the person who jabbers on Face Book or the person who occasionally publishes something out there in the real world is me.
May I refer you back to paragraph two. A good introvert has a good public face but the real person is hiding behind the words so I make sure they make me look good.