Thursday, 27 August 2009

The More the Merrier

The other day I took the Black offspring to their athletics club and watched them hare around the track. Their ability and determination never cease to amaze me.
I should point out for the sake of transparency that I am possibly the least sporty person I have ever met. Pouring myself another glass of wine is more than enough to exhaust me for the day.
I blame my Mother of course. She locked me in our house from the age of six and didn't allow me out until I had an offer from a Russell Group University safely under my belt. To be fair, we lived on a sink estate where every third teenager had an aerosol can up their sleeve and our next door neighbour left his upstairs window open so he could escape from the police with balletic ease.
My kids however, live such ludicrously middle class lifestyles that they are more likely to meet their doom at the bumper of a badly driven Rangerover. Thus they, unlike their Rapunzle like mater, are allowed out into the world and have consequently built enough muscle density to run.
And run they do. Like Greyhounds. Only cuter.

So I watched them doing their laps and it struck me that although running is essentially a solo sport, how much more they enjoyed themselves and how much more they improve from being part of their club. Obviously there's nothing stopping anyone training alone but there's nothing like a bit of encouragement to make those legs work harder.

And then, because with me all roads lead back to writing, it struck me that this is exactly why I love being part of a writing group.

Clearly most of my writing takes place alone ( fortunate considering I generally wear old trackie bottoms and a Luton pineapple). Hours and hours spent tapping away with only radio four for company. But what is indisputable is that when I release my work into the wild ie to my writing group it improves hugely.
Not only do my fellow writers provide insightful and helpful comments, steering me where I need to go and telling me in no uncertain terms when things are not working, they have, right from the start cheered me on. Unfailingly, they have supported me and pushed me forward.
I have acknowledged them in all my books so far and cannot see any reason why I would stop.
From the first session when they informed me that indeed I could write, to the night we cracked the bubbly when I got my first publishing deal I wouldn't be without them.

So for any aspiring writers I would urge you to find this priceless tool for your kit. Join a group or a club. Meet regularly and encourage one another. If there's nothing nearby go online and join a writers' community.

Cos there is nothing like safety in numbers.

10 comments:

Samantha Tonge said...

Great post, Helen, and so true.

I tried to find a local group, but there wasn't one - although, tbh, i like the convenience and relative anonymity of online groups (although i suspect this is the coward in me).

I dread to think where my writing would be now, if i hadn't uploaded some of my first book to one of these sites. The worst thing is to write in a vacuum.

Julie P said...

Writing groups are the best aren't they, Samantha! I wouldn't be without mine and I definately wouldn't have writen as much or even sent my work out without their encouragent. We egg each other on and the retreats they go on (I've only been on one so far) are legendary!!

I love writing by myself but look forward to going to the meetings every month to fill up my writing motivation and enthusiasm tanks.

Julie xx

Susie Nott-Bower said...

I've just had a lovely, egging-on email from a fellow Strictly. It makes such a difference. I also belong to several writing groups in Cornwall - we have cheered and critted and empathised our way through eachother's novels. Where would we be without each other?
Susiex

Helen Black said...

Yes, I don't feel I would have got anywhere without the encouragement. In those early stages my fellow members certainly gave me confidence which is vital no?
And even though I'm the only member who has been published so far I still feel very much part of the gang. It hasn't changed.

Samantha Tonge said...

Yeah, Julie - i think writing groups, real or virtual, are great for keeping things in perspective, good and bad...

Kath said...

Anyone know of any groups in East Yorkshire? Or, alternatively, can anyone recommend an online one?

Helen Black said...

There is a website called the writer's eye which lists lots of writing groups - there are quite a few in Yorkshire.
But don't be afraid to set one up yourself.
Mine started when I met another would be novelist at a ( very bad ) peotry reading. Then her husband's best mate asked to join and he knew a bloke down the road. And his wife knew a lady in the gym. And I invited another Mum from school.
Or put up an ad in your local library - they're normally very supportive.

Glynis said...

LOL I wrote about my visit to a writer's group here in Cyprus. My first and last visit http://www.glynissmy.com/2009/06/group-hug-and-gucci-shoesno-thanks.html
I do wish I could find an online one that suits my time zone.
I enjoyed my visit here, thanks for having me.

Kath said...

Have had a look for writer's eye, Helen, but only found an ad for a ghostwriter, a lady offering to unlock my creativity and a high-brow magazine.

Michaelsfdz said...

Anyone know of any groups in East Yorkshire? Or, alternatively, can anyone recommend an online one?