Monday, June 15, 2009

Funk Buster

I have the best writing group. Ever.

When I took advanced fiction my senior year in college, the professor assigned us to a small workshop group, so that we could get weekly feedback from our peers. Until this time, I had never received helpful hints or criticism from anyone each week, so it was really amazing to see how much that sort of dedication helps--especially when it comes to revising. 

After we had graduated, I spent the next summer--the summer before I was to attend Roosevelt's MFA program--not writing. So in the fall, when the three of us talked of starting a weekly workshop over Skype, I jumped at the chance. 

Each week, we all connect from Grand Rapids, Spain, and Chicago, and workshop one person's piece for about an hour. Sometimes the connection isn't great, and sometimes we'll only be able to squeeze twenty minutes in to meet, but it's always, always helpful. 

For the past month or so, I've had been in a writing funk. It seems to happen to me in the summer--I usually am best about staying on top of my writing during the school year, when I seem to have no time to do so. In the summer, I have loads and loads of time and yet the writing never gets done.

So last week, when it was my turn in a piece for workshop, I was stuck. I ended up just emailing the girls about 10 really rough pages of a plot point in my novel that I'm really struggling with. I went into the workshop dreading their comments. I felt like everything I had written was wrong and boring. 

But the comments I received were uplifting. I had convinced myself that I was writing off-the-mark, that I was taking too long to write what really needed to be written. I had allowed the little writing demons in my head to take me over. 

My workshop group, two people I trust with my writing more than anyone else said: no! you've got it! just keep going! it's almost there! 

And so I sat down that night and wrote. And again last night. And what has been coming out surprised even me. I wrote with the fuzzy feeling in my stomach when I know this is it. this is it.  
So if you don't have a writing group to hold you accountable, and to know your writing better than you do yourself, you should really try to go out and find one. 

L. Stacks


Adam Morgan said...

Glad your funk got busted!

Frank Marcopolos said...

I just got back from my own writing group, and I think you have it exactly right. A good group improves one's work significantly.

Kudos. (And, hi!)