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Mickey J. Corrigan on Writing Groups

We have author Mickey. J. Corrigan sharing with us today the joys and pitfalls of writing groups. Please welcome Mickey...

The Joys (and Pitfalls) of Writing Groups
Mickey J. Corrigan

I've been a professional writer and editor for many years, but I didn't join my first writing group until 2012. A decade earlier, I'd attended an ongoing poetry workshop in Boston. The workshop leader was a legendary poet  and the ever-changing group hosted a long list of amazing writers. It was fantastic. That's where I learned to write a poem, instead of jotting down prose and arranging it in short lines. The group met in a classroom and the leader served as our teacher. He had worked with local legends like Anne Sexton, so we knew we could trust him to guide us in the right direction.
Now I belong to several writers groups in Florida. We usually meet in a local chain restaurant and sit amidst the din of harried diners. Group organizers moderate the time spent on each person's writing. Leadership is more of a shared venture. There is no venerable writer to whom we all turn for guidance.
However, I do love my writers groups. The people tend to be bright, open, and intellectually inquisitive. They provide me with the opportunity  to share a few pages of a story or novel and be present when people read the work. I love it when somebody laughs out loud. Or groans. And their confusion about something that seems clear to me indicates the writing needs more effort. Enthusiasm shown in the groups has inspired me to complete work I had thought I might abandon. And members' critiques have demonstrated a wide range of reactions to material I thought would elicit a standard response.
However, writing groups can be merciless. When you hand someone your writing and ask them to critique it, they will look for ways to make changes. Some people over-analyze. They rearrange everything. They have a better idea, a better opening line, a much better ending.  If you send the same piece to them in published form, they tend to see it differently. Usually, they are more accepting and will read to enjoy or comprehend rather than to modify.
So it can be a challenge to bring your work to a writing group. And it can be worthwhile. I think the most productive format for a writing group includes a skilled leader with years of writing and publishing experience. Another successful format is a tight group formed by like-minded peers who appreciate one another's work and know how to advise in ways that enhance rather than merely change the work.
As an editor, I often advise new writers to try to find a local writers group. The experience can be enlightening and educational. It can help shape a writers' voice. And it's the best preparation I know for dealing with rejection. Ugh. That endless stream of rejection every writer must face when they turn work over to agents, editors, publishers and readers. We all have to learn how to deal with that.
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Mickey J. Corrigan is the author of a handful of novellas and the novel Sugar Babies, a sexy thriller. Her newest novella is the first book in The Hard Stuff Series from The Wild Rose Press. Whiskey Sour Noir is a tough luck love story about a woman who works in a homeless shelter and falls in love with a convicted sex offender. Can she believe his claims of innocence? Love can be so bittersweet.
Visit Mickey here:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5828647.Mickey_J_Corrigan

Mickey's latest release is:

Whiskey Sour Noir


Tami Lee Conkers knows her own mind, and she knows she has gotten herself into trouble by falling for the handsome, well-educated Cat Avery. She knows better, as the man is a registered sex offender who has served his time and now tends bar, but she believes his claim of innocence.

Having lost everything—career, family, home and reputation—Cat thinks he has figured out who set him up for the crime he didn't commit. He is determined to seek revenge. All around him, life is going from bad to worse until Tami Lee comes a callin'. Without Tami's help, Cat's life is over.

As the world spins out of control around them, can Tami justify leaving her life behind for one man? 



Buy links for Whiskey Sour Noir:

26 comments:

  1. I love writing groups, too - but I'm super picky about them! It sounds like you've been lucky enough to have a few really good ones :)

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  2. Yeah, writing groups can be wonderful or awful. And probably bits in between. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful online group. I've learned so much from them.

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  3. I've participated in both extremes when it comes to writing groups, and I am really lucky to be part of a fun one at the moment. A great group is definitely something to treasure!

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  4. I think the right writing group can be invaluable to learning and growing as a writer. However, it's easy to get so caught up in the socialization aspect of writing that one forgets to write! I fell into that trap back in my Romance Writer of America (RWA) chapter days, I know!

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  5. Writers' groups are so helpful. So are conferences where you can get critiques.

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  6. Writing groups have their ups and downs. You definitely have to find the group that's right for you. Then it's heaven.

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  7. I love all the comments! I just arrived home from a writers group to see this post. It was good to be reminded why I attend. I wasn't feeling so charitable after tonight's meeting! Ups and downs is right. I agree with Kelly that conferences can be VERY helpful because the workshop leaders and speakers are professionals with experience to share.

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  8. Best of luck Mickey!

    Beta reading can be really hard. I'm one of those whose first nature is to rewrite everything, but I've learned to curb that nature (somewhat). It's really hard to find the perfect balance between help and morphing the thing into your own.

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  9. I really like the teaser/blurb for Whiskey Sour Noir, so I'll check it out.

    I've never belonged to a writing group, but I know people who either swear by their benefits or leave them because of the nitpickers. My own review process is to run my writing past other writers and patient friends on a one-at-a-time basis. So far, this works for me.

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  10. Hi Mickey. Great post on writing groups. Lucky is the writer who finds one to suit. Must say I enjoyed reading Whisky Sour Noir.

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    1. Thanks! So glad you liked it. :)

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  11. This discussion is interesting. I used to work one on one with writers I trust; still do. But I also enjoy bringing work to a group and watching them read. To see their faces, hear their immediate reactions. But yes, the nitpicking is very difficult to tolerate.

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  12. So, so true about writers' groups. Some can give great feedback and others are looking for things to change that really don't need to be. Congrats on the novella, Mickey!

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  13. I loved my critique group in Cincinnati. Every time they said they were confused by the plot, I knew I had to sit down and rewrite until it made sense to them. They were really helpful!

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  14. Writer's groups really do have much to offer. It is important to find a good fit. Don't think I could manage without the help of other writers.

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  15. I have not been part of a writer's group- except for at some of the conferences I have attended. They sound like they have many benefits. It is so important to get feedback and have people read your ms and give you their honest opinion (I have done this, just not as part of an organized group). :) Thanks for sharing. Best of luck to Mickey!

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  16. Thanks to everyone for their comments. Really appreciate it!

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  17. Your writing group sounds like mine. We meet in a noisy restaurant in Florida. :) I like it that my group has a mix of experienced and inexperienced writers, and their feedback is always helpful.

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  18. No writer is an island -- great post.

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  19. I'm still trying to find the right writing group for me. I don't think there are any near where I live, but I've thought about looking into an online group. Thanks for the post! And also, congrats on your newest book--sounds like it has a great plot and one I would enjoy reading! :)

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  20. Very informative article. I, too, belong to several writers group, and my work grew leaps and bounds from the constructive and not-so-constructive reviews. But each critique found me re-examining my story, my messages, my motives, and helped me improve as a writer and a person.

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  21. Writing groups for sure have their ups and downs. You have to know who you can trust and who you need to allow their advice to roll away. That said, I am in Mickey's group and admit my bias. I think she is a terrific writer and recommend her books.

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  22. I agree finding local groups is super important. I think as a creative artist we can all learn from each other.

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  23. I'm right there with you. I have had the same experience with critiquers, and it's "fun" picking through their comments to try and decipher what is really valid, and what is just someone's opinion. I think the only way to really know what's valid is to get more than one perspective. In a group setting that can be hard because once an opinion is voiced, people are likely to agree.

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