“I am not a real writer.” “ I have nothing worth saying.” “What if no one reads anything I write?”
Have you ever had words like that fly through your head? If you are a writer, I will bet you have.
Me. Too. So many times. Sometimes only once a week. Sometimes as often as six times before breakfast.
Who do you call when you have these thoughts of doubt and insecurity?
Shooting off a text, “That’s it. I am not a real writer,” I sit and wait for the ping reply.
One of my good friends quickly responds, “Hey you are not allowed to say that.” And we are off. The conversation calms me down. But it always does more than that.
I am the most highly extroverted person I know, and there is a weekly group I meet with where our entire focus is writing together. We work on our own projects, but always end up laughing together. They fill my bucket.
1. They Erase My Doubts
I have spent many happy hours with these women and they have spent many hours with me. We know each other. If I dare to tell these women—who have witnessed me showing up week after week—that I am not a writer, the sentence would be labeled a lie. I am not a liar.
Even though I sometimes still feel like a fraud when I tell people I am a writer, I try to not give the feeling any credit. That confidence is a direct result from the time I spend with my writers group.
“We are going to sprint for thirty minutes. Ok—GO!”
When I spend time with these women, I know I will always end up with at least an hour of putting words on a page. That is invaluable for someone who keeps track of the time spent practicing a craft.
We have friendship in our group, but the core of our meetings is working hard. Writers write. We are writers because we put hours into world-creating. We do these things in solidarity with the other women in our group.
We cheer for each other. We enforce a nose-to-the-grindstone mentality with friendly word count competitions.
Do you know what number two is yet?
2. They Provide Motivation
Teamwork makes the dream work. Being a writer is my dream. While I know that I am the only one who can express my ideas, I also know the value of having these highly motivated teammates. Each of these women take time away from their families to honor this part of their identities, and in the process give me incentive when I feel like giving up.
“Hey what are some synonyms for this word?” “Where is the correct place to put the comma here?” “Does this sentence make sense?”
During our breaks between writing, our conversations sometimes turn towards writing craft questions. Google can answer many questions, but the fact of the matter is there is nothing like having a real person answer a question. This practice keeps us engaged with each other, helps us give encouragement, and produce our best work.
3. They share knowledge
Writers need to have things to write about. Situations, observations, things that puzzle us, or things that hurt us. Interacting with my teammates, asking questions, and making myself vulnerable help strengthen my craft but also my relationship with each of the ladies.
From the moment when one member reached out last February and said “We haven’t seen your face lately. Hope you can join us soon.” to a more recent and unexpected act of love from the group when I was stressed, my writing group has become a thriving community. I look forward to being with each of them every week.
Writers group. Team. Community.
I know not all writing groups work as well as mine. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. But I encourage you to seek out a writers group. Look on Facebook, or the app, MeetUp, or maybe even twitter or instagram. Look for signs in coffee shops—because writers need coffee. Lots of coffee.
And if you can’t find a group? What about starting one? Maybe a digital one if you can’t find writers in your area. Remember, writers write. And we write better together.
Alicia Grumley works herding cats during her day job. She is a full-time nanny for two high-energy little boys in Indianapolis. This is her first guest post at The Fantasy Scribe, but hopefully not her last! You can find more of her writing at OwnYourOxygen.Wordpress.com, which is her self-care advocacy blog.