You’re not (revising) alone

The revision process for any writing is daunting, especially when done alone. So don’t remain alone! Join or create a writing group with two friends or colleagues. It doesn’t matter if you all prefer different genres and styles and subject matter. The important aspects of a writing group are support, encouragement, and revision suggestions.

Last month, I gave my writing group a piece that I’ve been revising and submitting to literary journals for almost two years. They had never seen it before because I wrote and revised it alone. And in that solo capacity, I got the piece to the point where I was receiving golden ticket rejections (see my earlier post about positive rejections for more on this), but felt I could go no further. So I sent it to my friends and asked for their help. Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had worked with it so often that I felt I must be missing something obvious. And I knew the ending still wasn’t right.

We met at a great neighborhood deli for a late breakfast before we jumped in to discussing our pieces. They had each sent a piece to the group, so we spent time discussing revision and expansion ideas for each one over the course of two hours. When they got to mine, I listened, took notes, and asked for clarification. I was thrilled and relieved when they showed me things I couldn’t see, and when they helped me brainstorm tangible options for the ending. When I sat down to revise the piece, I could just feel how right their advice was, and it took a few hours because revision is hard even when you know what has to be done. When I sent it back to them for a quick once-over to make sure I had achieved what we discussed, both responded enthusiastically that I had done the necessary work and the  piece was much stronger. This built my confidence and I sent it off to another journal for consideration, confident that it really is now just a matter of time until some editor says yes.

If it wasn’t for my writing group, I would still be mulling over the potential problems with that piece. Thanks to their insights, suggestions, and ideas, I moved much more quickly into a “completed essay” that is now more competitive.

The idea that writers work alone is only partially true. Perhaps the original writing is composed in a solitary state, but the revisions taste much better in a group.

Create your own writing group (no more than three people total) and meet once a month to discuss ideas, focus on fixing a broken story, or to create goals. You won’t be sorry! 🙂


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