Joining a writing group can be a game-changer for your writing.
In her book Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg says that we writers need to write with the whole world in our arms. I’ve long understood the importance of community for writers. In fact, that’s why I started See Jane Write.
I had just moved back to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, and I was looking for a writing group for women, one that would welcome multi-passionate writers who love poetry, creative non-fiction, blogging, and more. But I couldn’t find one. I searched for TWO YEARS. Then finally in 2011, I decided to start my own.
See Jane Write was born. And what started as a group for Birmingham-based writers, now has members across the country and around the world.
There are different types of writing groups. Some meet in person. Some meet virtually. Others do both. But the goal is the same — a group of writers gathers to write, give feedback, and offer encouragement.
Joining a writing group should definitely be on your end-of-the-year to-do list.
A walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells. – Patrick Leigh Fermor
I’m so obsessed with the topic of walking and writing I should write a book on it. Duncan Minshull did. In his book Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking, Minshull includes a letter that Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote to his niece in 1847. In it he declares:
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”
These words could have been my mantra last year. In 2020 I committed to walking for exercise for at least 30 minutes every single day – in spite of the fact that I was going through breast cancer treatments. And I stuck with it. I walked just hours after my lumpectomy. I walked after surgery for my chemotherapy port placement. I walked after my first chemotherapy treatment and I walked on the days when chemo made 30 minutes feel like 30 miles. I was even quoted in Oprah magazine because of my walking challenge!
In addition to faith, family, and friends, the things that got me through cancer were walking and writing. And therefore, I believe I can walk and write my way through anything. And I am convinced that walking and writing go hand-in-hand.
Years ago, a friend and I would meet at our favorite coffee shop for writing dates. We both had a goal. She was working on a book and I was working on my blog. We’d give ourselves time for girl talk and giggles then we’d get quiet, set a timer, and write. We held each other accountable. I made sure she didn’t start scrolling through her phone. And she made sure I didn’t start writing random to-do lists.
Eventually, life got in the way and we stopped our writing dates and now because of the pandemic, neither of us will be hanging out in coffee shops anytime soon. But when all of this is over (if it’s ever over) I’m going to make it a priority to start these writing dates again.