Somewhere in your community a place will exist called a ‘Writers Group’ or ‘Script Doctors’ or ‘Syntax Surgery’ or something. They are often for writers, readers and actors to get together with a view to getting their work read, performed or scrutinised or whatever it is they do these days

Following on from my other articles about finding and agent/publisher, (based on my experience by the way, not by any means the voice of reason) this is an other area you could consider. Many agents and publishers will suggest this also. I’m not against criticism or peer-to-peer appraisals-not in theory at any rate. In these groups you will find writers from various sections of the community, with some interesting mentalities. The feedback and guidance you will find can be helpful, intelligent to the staggeringly wide of the mark variety. For most people they are a good excuse for a piss up in the pub afterwards. I’ve been to these groups before. They’re okay but generally suited for folk  bordering on the insane.

With regards to feedback of your work, people will be too overtly optimistic, banal or vague, for fear of causing tension. This is due down to avoiding conflict but also it’s because many writers lack confidence and security in their own work, and don’t feel somehow qualified to comment on the structure, style and general technicalities of someone else’s work. So the less secure writers will sometimes feel that they have to re-draft something which ends up being a strange meld of the dominant feedback, which might not be what’s best for the work. Imagine giving Ritalin to JG Ballard or, for that matter, Prozac to Kafka. Obviously this is a bit of a silly analogy. Still writing groups are okay for ideas and meeting people. Ideas are good. There should be similar groups for builders, hairdressers, social workers, call centre workers, prostitutes and carpet fitters.

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