Sunday, April 10, 2011

Top Reasons You Should Join a Writing Group

I’ve recently joined a fantastic group of writers, directors and actors who meet regularly to read new works (as well as eat baked goods and enjoy an adult beverage or two).

It’s been several years since I’ve been involved with a regular writing group and I’d forgotten how beneficial it can be.  

Some writers don’t want or need to be part of a group and I think I was okay for a few years to be writing a bunch of stuff on my own.  But other writers find some real benefit with the sense of camaraderie and the feedback. 

Here’s my top reasons why I like writing groups:

  1. You have a sounding board of like-minded writers who may be familiar with your work and can give some specific and immediate feedback on rough scripts, instead of waiting to get a formal reading up.
  2. You have a deadline and an audience who expects you to deliver your pages
  3. You have the chance to hear your script read aloud and since plays are meant to be performed, this is a valuable way of discovering if what you think is on the page actually exists, or if there is more work to be done.  (I just rewrote a ten-minute today based on valuable feedback and now feel its ready for submissions.)
  4. You can rely on a supportive environment so that you can bring in more risky and experimental work and push yourself out of your safety zone
  5. You get to hear rough drafts or first drafts of amazing scripts and then watch them get rewritten and get better from week to week.
  6. You have the opportunity to support your fellow playwrights work by listening, reading, evaluating and giving supportive feedback
  7. You can learn a lot from what other playwrights are writing—what they are doing well and what they are struggling with (in fact, sometimes it’s encouraging to recognize that even the best writers have the same second act issues and then witness how they overcome them)
  8. You get a chance to talk about theater in your community (what you’ve all seen lately) as well as what’s going on in New York and other places.
  9. You get to eat and drink and joke around with some talented people.
  10. You get your own secret handshake.

Tomorrow night I’ll be starting rehearsals for Shining City by Conor Macpherson at Off the Wall, which is exciting but sadly means that I’ll be missing out on a few weeks of the writing group.  I've already been inspired to start writing two new full-lengths, though, in addition to my other projects.  

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