Somebody to Lean On

All week long I’ve been breaking out in song the lyrics to Lean On Me by Bill Withers. I break out in song in the bathroom, separating the whites from the colors, seasoning the meat for tomorrow’s dinner, in my cubicle, etc. 

You’ve probably seen the 1989 movie, also named Lean On Me and starring Morgan Freeman. It’s the quintessential theme song to the dramatized film about a large group of people coming together to rise out of a dismal situation.
Writing can become a very disheartening process. Why? In order to write, a writer must create a world from a blank page. It is our genesis that we face alone as we shape that world in our own image. That is why writers are known to be notorious introverts. And when I say introvert, if it walks like an introvert and talks like an introvert, it’s an…you get what I mean.

Not only that, writers are their own worst enemies beating themselves up and comparing themselves to other writers. As if we can ever write like Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury, J.K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, John Grisham, etc.

However, we can only write as ourselves. And writing groups are the best place you can find your voice. Within a writing group you learn how to critique the works of others which also makes you better at spotting the holes in your own writing. They provide a community of support and encouragement from other writers like yourself. Just don’t get too defensive if you’re writing, remember not you, is criticized harshly.

I’ve recently joined Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. I’m also a proud member of Authonomy, Book Country, YouWriteOn and Scribophile. Although lately there hasn’t been much chance for me to participate in the peer critiques. Nonetheless, my writing has grown thanks to the people I’ve met and befriended on those sites.

Whether or not you’re an aspiring, emerging or established writer, joining a writing group will be beneficial to you, regardless if you’re able to meet face to face or only online. What’s been your experience with writing groups? If you haven’t joined one already, why? Please share in the comments section below.

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