Are writers the only ones who have groups? Do computer guys and girls meet at somebody's home once a month to angst about code? Do doctors meet for lunch to read their diagnoses to each other? Do plumbers gather to discuss plastic vs. metal pipes? Do librarians long to flock together over wine?
New writers always seem to be looking for a writing group. They want to know how to a.) find one; and b.) tell if it's a good one. Finding one can take some time, and it can take some boldness. . .like going to a class or a conference and asking people if they want to form a group with you. I did that once, and we met for years. So, yeah, finding a group can be a challenge. But telling if a group is a good one? That's easy.
Here is Nancy's Law About Writing Groups, and it also applies to writing classes and teachers, friends and relatives, agents and editors, spouses and dogs:
It's a good one if it makes you feel like writing.
It's a bad one if it makes you feel like not writing.
Oh, sure, I could say a little more. I could say the best writing group is one where people tell the truth, but in a kind and sensitive way, and where each of them understands that their opinion is just that. . .their opinion. That, honestly, is all there is to it. If you gather kind, truth-telling people around you, everything else will work out fine.
Here's Annie Lamott's description of one good writing group she knows:
Helping each other has made their hearts get bigger. . .All four of them are excellent writers, but only one of them has been published at all, and that was just one article. But you know what? They love each other. They still look forward to their meetings after all these years. They are better writers and better people because of their work with each other.
That last line is the part I love best: "They're better writers and better people because of their work with each other." That should be true of any work we do, because if it can't make our hearts bigger, then what good is it?
Happy Monday to one of the good groups. :)