Tonight I went to my first writers’ group, one of the tasks connected to my writing goals for this year. It was harder work than I expected. The format is very straightforward. Everyone who wants to read out something they’ve written gets 10-15 minutes to do so – enough for a short chapter or part of a short story. Then you go around the group and everyone comments.
I’ve been involved with a critiquing group before but it was online. You had a week to ponder and write your crits and you didn’t have the author sitting opposite you, looking quizzical, as you attempt to explain some arcane point that not even you properly understand, while you try to make sense of the notes you jotted down in tiny handwritting so the person next to you couldn’t read them and wonder what the hell you were thinking.
I found listening (rather than reading) and then commenting immediately quite challenging. You want to find something encouraging to begin and then make some insightful and helpful comments that don’t make it look like your reading and comprehension level is better suited to the Peter and Jane books. Easier said than done.
I learnt a lot – particularly from the comments of others – and definitely felt I was outside my comfort zone. I’ll continue to attend (it’s once a fortnight) and I might even think one day about reading out something of mine.