A long time ago, when I attended my first writing course, the teacher said: “The best way to develop your confidence and flex your writing muscles is to join a writing group.”
This I promptly did and it was the start of two years of invaluable support and development that gave me the push I needed to take my writing further. It was also where I began to realise that I could research and write articles – and get paid for it. I’m not sure that I would ever have taken the leap into journalism without the support and encouragement of the ten or so like-minded individuals who made up our little outpost of creativity.
I say ‘like-minded’ because in all other respects we were totally different, ranging in age from 20 to 65, some with families, a couple retired and some single. We had in our midst an ex-detective, an actor and a (hallowed) published author but for the most part we were ordinary people with day jobs and bills to pay but with one thing in common – we all aspired to being published writers.
Life moved on and I left London but I took with me everything that I had learned in that church hall for two hours every other week. I had listened to advice, soaked up the criticism and practiced my craft and that unlikely group of odd individuals (and there were some real characters) set me on the path to success. Outwardly nothing had changed but the big difference was that I now had belief in myself as a writer.
A course can teach you about technique and give you a qualification but a writing group can give you something equally valuable – self-confidence.
Fast forward several years (decades!) and I have been a journalist and editor for longer than I care to remember but I can still vividly remember the writing group where it all started, where that first tingle of excitement turned into an achievable aspiration and later career.
Now I am once again in the fortunate position of being a member of a writing group and it is no less rewarding. The first couple of meetings, listening to the ladies of WoSWI (Westcliff-on-Sea WI) discuss their writing ambitions and the thrill of discovering that they are all so much more capable than they think they are (yes, you really are!) has been a real pleasure. Together, we can achieve great things.
I thank you ladies.
For my part, I hope to bring my experience to the group, develop my creative writing skills and maybe even finish that novel…