In my five years as a professional writer, I have been in only two writing groups. My first lasted about three years, back when I was just learning the rules of freelance writing (so I could break them later!) I now call those my “tender ego” years.
Suffice to say, I didn’t even begin writing for the public until age fifty because of my gigantic fear of criticism. I was a librarian and a scholar, so I regularly came in contact with some of the best writing in the world. It seemed far too presumptive of me to think I had anything to add to the conversation.
It took a real, honest-to-goodness personal catastrophe for me to decide it was time for me to venture out into the world of freelance writing. And when the mainstream media rejected my ideas of what needed to me written about, I started my blog Midlife Crisis Queen in late 2007. Since I seemed to be changing everything else in my life, why not change careers a few times?
At first I joined a writing group where critiques invariably hurt my feelings. Eventually I pretty much stopped sharing my writing with them. It all felt so personal to me, and a critique usually led to depression and tears. Like I said, my ego was tender.
After giving up on that group for obvious reasons, I wondered if I would ever find the right writing group for me. After a two year wait, I recently found a small but cordial group of fellow non-fiction writers I can relate to. They offer just the right combination of encouragement, while also challenging me to expand, explore and improve my skill set.
So if you feel discouraged about writing groups, stick to your guns and keep searching. The perfect group for you is out there somewhere.