I will never forget the first time I attended my first writer's group. A fellow classmate in college was talking about her writer's group in class one day and I happened to be listening in. Being a somewhat introvert, I did not share information about my writing very often. This, as I am sure you probably have already guessed, is not good for an up and coming undiscovered writer. So I climbed out of my shell, desperate for someone else to read my writing besides my family, and asked her if I could attend.
Lucky for me, my classmate, who now is now a friend of mine, encouraged me to attend and made me feel very welcomed. I won't say all writer's groups will be this welcoming but my first experience was a positive one. I received true feed back on my writing. It is amazing the small things that the writer does not see that a new observant eye can. It can be as simple as a misspelled word, to punctuation or grammar. Whatever it is a new eye on your piece can never hurt.
Now, you have to take the good with the bad. Most writer's groups are going to be truly honest with you. Some very blunt. And you won't always like what they are going to have to say. They are going to suggest changes that you may think are ridiculous, but that is okay. You say, "thank you," and "I will take that into consideration," and you go on with your work.
I have to say my writers groups have made me a much better writer. These are our people. They understand what we are going through. They get that each piece we write is a little piece of ourselves. I can honestly say my writing is better because they review it. They see things I never would have. But again, I don't make every change they suggest. From a creative aspect it is still your piece. You have the last say, but their comments make you look at your piece in a different way and from a different point of view. Sometimes they are right and other times they are dead wrong, but the best part of it is that it is up to you, the writer, to decide.
I know how hard it is to commit to a group, but honestly I don't find it hard to make it to my meetings on a weekly basis because I love what I do. I love sharing my work with people who understand what it takes to create this type of art. So what does all this mean? Well, it is just my way of telling you that if you are debating on whether or not to join that writer's group you have dismissed, you might want to rethink it. It never hurts to get a different prospective of your work. And best of all you can take it or leave it. And if you are lucky you will make some great friends and contacts along the way.
If you would like to get connected to a writer's group I suggest you contact a writer's organization in your city or state. They are usually easy to access through the internet. Otherwise a new site has been started for certain cities to help writers get connected and it can be found at http://www.findawritinggroup.com or if you are interested in starting your own group you can find some good tips at http://fictionwriting.about.com
Have you attended a writer's group before? Let us know how it went. Is it a yay! Or is it a nay!