Writing can become a solitary and isolating effort, yet writers actually need to interact with other writers to hone their craft. Joining a writing group offers many advantages.
Art and craft
Writing is both an art and a craft. Associating with other writers gives opportunities to practice the art and learn about the craft. Writing groups often bring in successful writers, agents and editors to speak on a variety of topics concerning writing and publishing. Join a group that balances art and craft with opportunities for learning about both.
Writing is also a business. A writing group allows you to network with others in the business, as well as with editors, agents and publishers. Choose a group with a varied representation of many genres and experience levels for the best opportunities to network with other writers. Who better to explain the points of a contract, how to work with an editor, what remainders are than other writers? You can learn from books, or you can learn from people who have experienced the real publishing world.
What are you doing to help others? There can be opportunities within a writing group for give-and-take in critiquing the works of other writers, in presenting workshops and discussing books on writing. Participate in as many of these events as you can to further your growth as a writer. Helping others reach their goals helps you as well. Getting your name and work into the public eye is a must for every writer. A writing group allows a safe haven to practice presentation skills, and sell a few books to friends before trying to make sales to strangers.
Sharing success and pain
Writing groups are the perfect place to share the success of acceptance and the pain of rejection. Family and friends may not give you a realistic appraisal of your work because of their feelings for you. Your writing group, on the other hand, can be honest, and hopefully tactful about your work. Other writers also better understand the ups and downs of the publishing world. When you receive a rejection, the group can help you evaluate it, put it into perspective and move on to either fix it or submit elsewhere.
Joining a writing group may be the most important decision of your writing career. Choose one that meets your needs as a writer, artist and business person, while also encouraging you to grow as a person and a writer. Choose one that gives you opportunities as well to contribute to the successes of other writers.