Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Beauty of Group

I had an interesting writers group session the other night, which once again showed me the value of the group process for writers. We were discussing one author's first two chapters and several of us began focusing on character development. What began as single, orderly observations became an amazing riff with folks rapidly building concept and feeding off one another's perceptions. Loud, unruly, manic, it was what a group should be, a positive and re-energizing synergistic explosion.

I'm not saying a group shouldn't have structure, or that people shouldn't wait in turn, but sometimes it is liberating to let the discussion follow an organic evolution. And Christine Purcell, my collaborator on The Breach, whose job it was to ride roughshod on us, let the banter and ideas flow, reining us in at last by care-taking the person whose work we were critiquing and making sure ideas were summarized and needs were met.

Any group is a tricky animal to groom and maintain. Too often some groups fall into a predictable groove and tedium ensues. Mixing it up, changing or rotating leadership, trying different activities and letting things evolve rather than forcing them are often the difference between a productive outing and a fulfilling experience.


Hanny said...

We always hear that writing groups are a good idea, but so few of us follow through and get one together. Wouldn't it have been fun to be an Inkling with Tolkien and Lewis?

Anonymous said...

Next time I'm bringing a whip and I attend to crack it.

Lee Thompson said...

Very cool, man!