If you’re someone who is serious about your writing and it’s more than just a hobby to you, you’ll probably be hungry for feedback and thirsty for inspiration. After all the most important return as a writer is the response of readers.
I am not implying that you necessarily have to be pursuing professional publication, competitions or even publication in journals or magazines in general to take your writing seriously. You could simply be trying to build an audience or just be challenging and improving yourself for broader or personal reasons.
Whatever your intention or your end goal is, honing your craft requires practice and engagement. Often writers I know – including myself in my earlier years – seclude themselves into private rooms as their own lone critic, or perhaps entrust this to one other person they are willing to reveal that part of themselves to.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of having a chain of excuses or justifications at the ready for why you would never show anybody your writing, and in the end it’s actually a philosophy that’s geared towards enduring obscurity and uncertainty on a personal level.
That brings me to the point of this, which is the strong suggestion that you should join a writing circle. It doesn’t have to be a formal group with high demands and deadlines, which may be counter productive to your personality type, but essentially a small group of like-minded writers who encourage and challenge you, and ultimately inspire you.
I have recently found myself part of a group of 20 or so Instagram writers and poets, and within this group we have quickly grown quite interactive and friendly when it comes to supporting each other’s work and keeping each other driven. We’ll shortly even be setting aside an engagement day where we discuss our writing and how to improve our respective prospects.
In my experience positive emotion towards your own work is nearly always a better motivator than negative. The concept is basically that feeling envious towards a writer you deem to be doing better than you is never going to inspire you the same way as feeding off the energy and engagement of a writer that you admire and want good things for.
Note that I specifically referred to emotion you feel towards your own work, because of course negative emotion in general due to hardship or trauma can inspire incredible writing within you. That’s why I’m specifically talking about your perception of the quality and value of your own writing – positive is always better.
A writing circle can truly help you realise this and hone your craft in a productive way. It will also open you to other styles of writing and challenge you to think about your own work in new ways, if you are not someone who really enjoys reading books and guides.
The important ingredient to make it all work of course is being open to engage with others’ work with care and consideration, as no writing circle is ever going to be successful if there isn’t a fair dose of give and take, and a genuine drive to lift each other up as a whole.
When it all comes together, however, you may just find an endless stream of creative inspiration that is as addictive as it is warm and humbling.
Perhaps this poem of mine will articulate it better than I can.