The social/unsocial writer

Soph wrote an interesting comment about the social/unsocial aspects of writing on her blog, Snufft, last week:

But the more writing events I go to, and festivals I attend or volunteer for, the more the question keeps rearing its head, am I benefiting from all of this, should I just be locked away by myself tapping away happily on my keyboard?

The answer, for me, as far as I can see, is yes. Whether there are more opportunities if you know more people within the ’scene’ is irrelevant for me. Every time I attend something, I walk away feeling motivated, enlightened, fueled to write more, wanting more than anything to be just like my mentors…I think spending time with other writers is important, if for nothing other than to challenge how you feel about festival’s, and the new performance type nature, that readings seem to have taken on. (22 June 2009)

I disagree with Soph. Although writing festivals, book launches, and spoken word performances do occasionally inspire me, I usually find them distracting. Not only am I too busy socialising (not writing) due to such events, I worry over what everyone else is doing/thinking/reading; I worry that I am underperforming; I become a lemming and write my way off a cliff:

Conversely, I love writers’ group workshops. Not all feedback is constructive and not all suggestions are taken on board but I always love getting a fresh take on my work. I also learn a lot from workshopping other people’s work.

It’s not easy finding a suitable writers’ group however. I suggest shopping around until you find one that fits. The VWC has a list of writers’ groups in Victoria, and Caroline Allen’s post, ‘Advice for finding a writers’ group’, gives some useful tips on choosing the right group. If you don’t find one that you like, set up your own. I suppose this is where events, such as the  Emerging Writers’ Festival, come in handy. And now I’ve written myself into a catch-22.

4 thoughts on “The social/unsocial writer

  1. I like your last line about writing yourself into a Catch 22—oh the allusions via that book–hmm. As for writer’s groups–in my area the best one I ever found was poputlated by a lot of ‘older’ folks who wrote to keep their sanity. Main problem was that they ‘died’–yes, gradually they ‘died’–and basically ‘orpahed’ moi. All the other groups yap yap yap and like to yap more in public meeting places than they like to write or give serious feedback. So–anyone who finds a group of people with serious intent on writing well–well, you’re damn lucky!

  2. All the other groups yap yap yap and like to yap more in public meeting places than they like to write or give serious feedback…

    Yes, I’ve been to a writers’ group like that. A lot of hand-holding, a lot of talking, and not much feedback. But I’ve got a group from uni who catch up once a month. We used to workshop in class, so we’re much more productive!

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