Sunday, 8 November 2009

Get out of the attic!

I have been writing since I could read but when I was growing up no-one took much notice. My parents encouraged me to do well generally at school but school did not encourage my creativity and I was too shy to admit to anyone that I wrote. I did however write songs and sing them to my friends at uni and did the occasional open mic spot. It wasn't until I had my kids that creative writing classes really started in London. That was when my writing took off. With the support of my tutor and fellow student/writers I began to publish short stories, articles, poems and then to work on my first novel. But the whole process could have been much quicker if there had been the courses we have these days and the critique groups that have sprung up on almost every street corner.

Discussing a new chapter in my critique group.

Writing in a lonely attic ( or in my case, on the kitchen table after the kids had gone to bed) did not really take me towards my goal of becoming a published writer. Nor did it help much to read to family and friends. Ultimately the work needs the rigour of other writers, either in a committed critique group or in a tutor-lead setting.

Running a workshop in North Finchley.

I have lead workshops and been a member of critique groups for over fifteen years. Most people need the cool objective eye of another and the support to move their writing towards their goals. Very few people remain in the attic and achieve that goal.

These days there are so many options to choose from and if all else fails, start your own group. That's what I did on more than one occasion and my novels are proof of how important that has been for me.

This month the writer and blogger, Tracy Ann Baines, has posted two articles I have written on critique groups and tutor lead workshops. Here are the links :

Don't battle on alone wondering if you are going in the right direction. Join a class, find a critique group, meet with other committed writers, go to writers' events, find out about the industry and you'll be plunged into a new and exciting world which will support your journey to becoming a published writer.



  1. I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of finding a critique group. If only I lived in London. It feels as if the world of writers' groups is so much richer there. That doesn't mean that Leicester is lacking. We have a large formal group called the Leicester Writers' Club and for those who prefer something more informal there are many groups of writers who meet in each other's houses. I belong to just such a group and their support is invaluable to my writing, my morale and my sanity.

  2. Wise words, Miriam. I have learned so much by being part of a critique group and by making use of professional review services. Why go it alone when there are so many resources to help one make it!


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