One night every week I go to a writers’ group, my literary therapy. There’s eight or nine usually attend and it’s a mix of chat about the small world that is South West Donegal, books, TV, and anything else that takes our fancy plus we share our writing. Everyone is very supportive and encouraging but willing to offer constructive criticism. They are all accomplished writers and writing in different genres – horror, crime, thriller, memoir, etc – which brings a delightful variety to both the readings and their perspective on the work we each present.
The discipline of needing to write something for discussion each week keeps the nose to the grindstone but also provides the platform to float ideas. It also forces me to consider my own piece with a more critical eye than might otherwise be the case and occasionally gives me an insight or idea which would never have come to me working alone at my computer. Last night, for example, I was reading a draft scene which started well enough with setting a location, a lake side. Members of the group liked the description but pointed out I hadn’t mentioned the location again in the scene – this was probably because I could see it in my head so subconsciously assumed my reader could as well. I resolved to write a couple of lines further, expanding the setting. On scribbling down notes when I returned home I suddenly had the inspiration on how to deal with an issue much later in the book, but where I could lay the groundwork in this scene. Magic! It may, or may not work, but at least the writers’ group got me there.