Hi, my name is Jocelyn, and I’m a burned out writer.
This is essentially an introduction that I could use at every one of my writing group meetings, and the other members feel the same way. Yes, we come for the critiques. We all need and value the critiques. But what I’ve discovered over my years of participation is that the support, encouragement, empathy and camaraderie are even more important.
Writer’s are odd ducks. We devote a great deal of our mental and emotional lives to people who don’t actually exist. Our occupation is solitary and often isolating. It’s easy to feel detached from reality at times, or frustrated that reality continues to intrude on our ability to flesh out the worlds in our minds. And then comes the frustration and hopelessness that sets in when we’re trying to sell the stories that we’ve poured our hearts and souls into, and we have to face the harsh reality that the children of our mind are now mere commodities that we have to pitch to potential buyers. Buyers who might not love them as much as we do.
If anyone needs a regular support group, it’s writers.
Though our group only meets once a month, it’s an occasion that I always look forward to and always benefit from. Before, after, and sometimes during critiques we vent our frustrations, air our concerns, rant about the industry and the challenges we all face both in our bizarre vocation and in our relationships as they are impacted by our writing. This chance to speak openly in an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance is one of the most valuable things in my life.
Because of our once a month schedule, we often have to look for secondary sources for more frequent critiques, such as online beta partners. But the interactions with online critique partners are never as uplifting or rejuvenating as those monthly “support group” meetings.
Even if you have several wonderful online critique partners, I highly recommend that all of you writers out there search for a local in-person writing group, or at least a few writers that you can meet with socially on a regular basis. The value of this mental and emotional support cannot be overstated.
If I didn’t have my group, I don’t know if I’d still be writing.
By Jocelyn Nash Carlin