Group Writing Therapy
Back in 2011, a friend of mine started a fiction critique circle. I'd taken poetry and creative nonfiction classes in college, but this was the first time I had regular feedback on fiction. This was also the time where I was starting to get more serious about writing stories, so it was enormously beneficial. And for well over a year, the group was my Sunday afternoon haven. It wasn't just about fiction. It was about being with some of my closest friends.
But things happen. Groups have their struggles for various reasons. My group's demise was fairly extreme; our host endured a second round of breast cancer, and died from complications. After the end of her grueling battle, one member had moved out of state, another quit over interpersonal conflicts with another member, and two of us didn't feel like writing anymore, for various reasons. So the group died as well.
Six months after my friend's death, I was spending a quiet Saturday alone when I realized that I really needed a group. Not the one I had before; that was a past life. (I did invite one member from the old group to my new group, but she declinded; she still isn't ready to start writing again.) I amassed a small collection of friends and acquaintances. Some of us have publishing credits; some of us are still trying to get published; one of us is a beginner and shared his very first story ever at the meeting today.
I was surprised at how easily the group fell into place after I got the idea. And I'm thrilled that it did. Now, I can't procrastinate on fiction projects. Now, I get to engage with other writers on a regular basis. But I didn't just need this group to make myself write stories. I realized that I needed it to feel normal again. Nothing is going to replace that first group, or the fun I had there. But here is something new, something that is wonderful and special and supportive. My life is finally starting to feel real again after so much tragedy and mourning. It's a great sensation.