The Meet-and-Greet: Interview or First date?

Our writing group had its first “meet-and-greet” meeting this week. I can’t decide if it felt more like a job interview or a first date.

Actually, I left feeling pretty good about the other members—we’re a diverse little group, representing the short story, the screenplay, and the novel. Whether we would make a good writing group was up for debate.

A range of styles can present a challenge to a new group. How can a short story writer critique a screenplay? Can a screenwriter provide thoughtful feedback to a romance novelist? Will each of us get the guidance we need to achieve our goals? These questions and more were raised as we shared where we were in our writing.

But we also agreed that diversity can enrich our group. The screenwriter will no doubt gain some practical insight from our published novelist. The resident chick-lit writer can help me inject some realism and humour into my short stories. And I hope that I can call on my varied reading interests to help my fellow Restless Writers make the most of their talents.

I have already made use of some new-found motivation, thanks to the lively conversation and expression of common frustrations. But I need to keep the momentum going. As one of the members said, “I think we’re all in a slump right now.” It’s nice to know I’m not alone in some days finding the laundry more pressing than my latest story. Perhaps together we will be able to overcome whatever is keeping us from finishing—or from getting started again.

My feeling is that a writing group needs a mix of personalities, writing styles and work ethics to succeed.  What do you think? How do you measure success in a writing group? And what elements contribute to that success? I hope other writers will chime in.

Maria McDonald

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