Thursday, October 31, 2013

4 Tips for Creating a Writing Encouragement Group


Alyson Schroll is a homeschool student and published poet. Since she could hold a crayon, she has been writing stories and drawing illustrations. This has developed into a love for blogging and a passion for painting. Alyson is inspired by God’s continual and creative work in the lives of His children.  She enjoys book store cafes, warm sunny days, lessons from C. S. Lewis, and books with fascinating imagery. Find out more about her on her blog or on Goodreads

I live in a family of writers. Who knew? Actually, I didn’t until I prepared to write the second draft of my second novel. Then my mom got creative with her blogging, my brother started a story, my dad wrote a middle grade mystery, and my little sister embarked on a tale of her own.

My family had supported me before they wrote, but once I shared my enthusiasm with them, they joined in and offered encouragement of their own. Before we knew it, we had a strong encouragement group put together. Then, I began to see how important a group like this really was.

A critique group is great because it helps shape your writing, but an encouragement group helps shape you. These people knew you before you wrote, they saw you start, they can see how your life and writing intertwine, they know your personal beliefs and values, and they have the ability to step in when you need it the most, even if your writing shows otherwise. 

Too many times, we only look at the professional perspective and forget that a personal friend is just as important. Finding a few people to become your encouragement can help you get past a writing hump when you hit a rough patch. 

Look to family first, then to close friends. I realize that everyone’s families are blessed in different ways, and there may be fear involved in sharing your precious story with them. But your family has the most interaction with you. They are the ones who see you up late at night. They see you fall into a daydream while doing the dishes. They see you suddenly perk up with a new idea or story. And while they think you look crazy, they understand. These are the people to go to first.

Encourage them back. Notice, I said “encourage” not “teach.” A little support goes a long way. A passing, “How’s the story going?” could be all it takes. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read more than a chapter of my dad’s story. This keeps me from comparing and critiquing when I should be encouraging his journey.

Remember, they don’t know all about writing. None of us would claim to be an expert, but it’s easy to pretend with those who don’t know as much about the publishing world. Keep things simple, don’t try to explain everything. It’s alright if they don’t understand. How long did it take for you to get to where you are? They can learn on their own if they want. It’s the encouragement they need from you. When you choose to step out your own writers mind, you step into someone else’s world.

Work on a collective challenge. Doing something together without critiquing one another is a blessing I quickly began to love. My family is doing the 100-4-100 challenge together for the second time. At the completion of the last one, those who participated went out for milkshakes. You can choose to work on a different prompt every week, meet a weekly word count goal, or another challenge. Anything you all do together will be rewarding.

Critique groups have their place, but so do encouragement groups. I challenge you to look for the people in your life that can help you personally through your writing journey.

~Alyson

20 comments:

  1. First of all: Alyson, it's wonderful you're posting here! I follow your blog for...well, I don't know anymore how long, but Stephanie and Jill definitely made the right choice to let you talk here!

    Right, to the point now ;-)

    My family isn't a writing family at all... I even doubt if they know I am writing. I do have a friend whom which I share some pieces of writing sometimes. She doesn't write herself, but when I wrote a first draft in April (yep, I know you shouldn't show first drafts, but this was my first full one. Doing it not is better, actually ;-)) I found that out with my second and third story) I wrote that story in a blog. Only she was able to read it and she gave some comments. And when I didn't continue the story, she asked me: Are you going to write some more?

    You know, it's just the idea someone is waiting for your writing. And that's really exciting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks : )

      Sometimes those nonwriter eyes can be the biggest help because it means they're purely a reader's eyes. Having someone want your story is a feeling, I hope, I never get used to!

      Delete
  2. That's really cool that your family would support you like that. I secretly suspect some members of my family are less than thrilled that I chose creative writing over electrical engineering. :)

    ~Sarah Faulkner

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took a while for me to share with my family, but once I did, I never regretted it : )

      Delete
  3. You are certainly lucky to have a family of writers. Yes, my family does think I'm weird whenever I tell them a new story idea.
    Though, I did find out that my dad is trying a nonfiction book (not saying what it's about), but it's nice to know I'm not the only person that writes in my family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dad is probably the most into writing besides me. He even drove to a small town an hour away just to take pictures for his book : ) It's fun seeing him write!

      Delete
  4. That's so great you have a family that is into writing. My sister used to write (we would sit back to back on holidays and write, write, write), but the interest faded with her. My real encourager though is my best friend who I've known since kindergarten and sees all those things you mentioned before Allison (seeing I don't live at home anymore, my friends see me more than my parents). I love it when she nudges me with little hints that she's excited to hear more about a certain character or that she can't wait to hear where a certain story is going. It's amazing, like Arende said, that someone is waiting for your writing. It really helps

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always fun to see readers get excited even when they're your friends. I just shared a bit with a friend yesterday, and she's already begging for more : )

      Delete
  5. Ohh, my family is totally that way. Right now I have two brothers writing a book each, I'm writing a book, we have a book (or should I say series) that the whole family is working on, and my Mum used to right children's stories for us when we were little. She was so good that she had a big publisher following her around for years wanting her to write or them. We talk about our books all the time and I can't tell you how many ideas my family has given me or my story. I don't like to think how awful and dry it would be without their help. I am blessed with a great family of writers and of really cool people. Thanks or the post Alyson, I can totally relate!

    HP

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is very exciting to have family love the same things you do!

      Delete
  6. I loved this, Alyson. Thanks so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Alyson, thank you! This post about encouragement was actually...encouraging! Imagine that! ;)

    So far, no one I know of in my family enjoys writing. I've got a few particularly imaginative siblings, though...perhaps I shall have a fellow writer yet! Unfortunately, all I have related to writing from my family right now is odd looks and teasing...but we'll see. I just have to be choosy about what I share at the moment. I've learned really quickly NOTHING ABOUT CHARACTERS. Non-writers do not get it. xD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you liked the post. It takes time for family to understand. Even now, my mom sits, nods, and mumbles "uh huh" when she doesn't understand. Give it some time : )

      Delete
  8. This is an amazingly awesome idea, Alyson! :) I totally need to get some family and friends to do this. :D Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. THANKS! I'm finally a freshman and our writing club is starting up on Monday. I don't know exactly what we do there, but it's a fictional writing thing, so I'm sure I'll end up doing these things :)

    ReplyDelete

Home