I was having a discussion today about the pros and cons of writing groups and realized that a lot of people (or at least, a lot of people I was talking to today) are very much opposed to the idea.
Well, the main reason seemed to be that everyone thought their work and ideas were unsafe in a writing group. What I mean is, almost all of the people I was talking to insisted that I was crazy for participating in writing groups because they felt that I was opening myself up to having someone steal my work! Needless to say, none of these people are members of writing groups!
I was truly shocked by the level of passion and conviction that these people (some fellow writers, some not) had regarding the threat of theft within writing groups. (Some also could not see the benefit to having others critique their work...but that's a whole other argument altogether!) But not one of them could cite a concrete example of a writer having their work stolen due to being a member of a writing group.
Now, I 'm quite new to the whole writing group idea. I just recently joined an on-line writing group this fall and am enjoying it (and getting a lot of great feedback). I was welcomed right away and have felt like I'm part of this great writing family. A family that is getting to know my writing quirks. Not once have I felt that my work was in danger of being stolen. In fact, the whole conversation today made me a little uncomfortable...I couldn't imagine my group abusing my trust, or anyone else's for that matter.
And the pros to being in a writing group are very clear to me. 1. I am surrounded by like-minded people who have the same passion for writing as I do. 2. I am getting valuable feedback and fresh eyes to look at my completed projects. 3. I am using my own skills to give feedback and offer my opinions on other writers' work.
On the other hand, I know a few writers who vow never to join a writing group because they feel that it is a waste of their time. They don't feel the need to have others critique their work. At times, I think that too much feedback from too many people can make more work and be less effective, however, I do value the opinions that I am lucky enough to get from my group. And some writers argue that it's too much of a time commitment. This is something that I have struggled with myself actually. Being in a writing group is a time commitment, not only because I need to prepare something for critique but because I need to be available to critique. So when I committed to joining a group, I chose one that was on-line and therefore I can critique when I get a spare minute anytime during the month. It works well for me.
So, I put it to you, are you in a writing group? Do you see the value to participating in this type of group? Do you have any fears or concerns? Do you have any great stories of support?