Winning and the value of writing groups

Over the past few weeks my local writing group, Dean Writers Circle, has become buried under a glorious load of wins for both prose and poetry, some with publication attached, one being part of installation art in Gloucester. We share and celebrate (we used to have cake in the old days…) but when I found myself a winner today it made me realise how much we as writers gain from being part of such groups.
DWC is over 40 years old and has bred famous-for-their-time writers such as Louise Lawrence, author of the Children of the Dust series which was required reading at one time in UK schools. It’s had its ups and downs but currently we have about 20 paid up members. We meet fortnightly to share and give feedback on short pieces (often ones bound for competitions); we have a monthly novel group for those of us embarking on that journey; and a monthly writing workshop where we spend two manic hours writing to prompts and laughing a lot (we also used to have cake on those occasions but these days our gatherings are by Zoom).
Since I joined at the end of 2018, I know my writing has been exceedingly improved by receiving feedback – from missing commas and too many adjectives to flow and characters and plot. Individual members are happy to give their time outside of meetings as well and are constructive and focused. It also helps a lot to give feedback – looking at other people’s work lets you see your own through new eyes and can be as valuable as the advice any editor can dole out.
So if you want to improve your writing (and eat cake with an excuse) the best advice I can give you is: join (or start) a writing group where people are keen to improve and happy to share.

PS The comp I won was this – another member of the group was selected for publication and a third was a winner in the N50 competition (a story in 50 words exactly – phew!) You’ll have to buy the book to read the stories… but here’s a clue about mine for those who know their medieval UK history and that the Severn River was called Sabrina by the Romans. The crib has always caught at my throat in this contemporary woodcut.

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