Peter L.S. Trevor

We are stories made manifest

Writing groups.

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One of the things, if not the thing, an aspiring writer needs is feedback.  Detailed constructive feedback.  I’d tried some online resources but, when I moved to a new town for work, I realised now was the time for another kind of fresh start.  In September 2011, I joined a local writing group on Meetup.  It was a small but welcoming collection, maybe a dozen or so, and I made some good friends.

By May the following year, the writing group’s leader had to step down for personal reasons.  Somehow, I found myself given the reigns.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I fell back on the one skill I could rely on: being lazy.  Most people don’t think of that as a skill, but it is.  Being lazy can push you to be inventive in avoiding work.  The biggest task was to come up with topics or themes or something for our weekly meetings.  Being lazy meant that I came up with a simple, repeating structure.  It needed to be tweaked a few times, but now a lot of the admin is automatic.

As the membership grew, I was fortunate enough to find people willing to shoulder the burden.  Today, our little group has 1565 members (about 150 are ‘active’), and the ‘management team’ numbers 4 (including myself).

We’ve just had the first main meeting of 2019 (not including any of the specialist subgroups’ meetings) where I had to deliver a ‘state of the union’ address to a sizable gathering.  I am an introvert, how did this happen?

I’ll tell you how it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen smoothly. There have been bumps aplenty along the way. Problem members, losing venues, complaints, trying to set simple rules only to have people ignore them, Meetup’s website changes last year, and members sharing questionable material. Some of the problems were my fault, others not. But, for the most part, we expected this and kept going.

And all this was originally in service of getting feedback. Well, I’m getting that feedback. And my skills as a writer have improved immeasurably because of it.

I have the honour of running a sizable writing group, with some amazing people in it.  If I can do that, who knows what you can do?

Victoria Creative Writing Group (BC, Canada)

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