Gregor Spanks Writers Groups


Gregor went to a writers group, once or twice. It was a long time ago. He caught a brain fever that took forever to cure. Since then, Gregor has abandoned much hope for writers groups. Although he believes there must be a good group out there somewhere, he advises others to be wary.

Gregor has a bad attitude about most writers groups. He feels it’s only fair to warn you before he starts the dump that follows.

Gregor likes the idea of group-think, group goals, people helping each other. However, when it comes to writers groups, he believes there are too many shady characters running about. Some of these miscreants need a second look.

The English Specialist. Gregor finds this one everywhere. It’s the person who knows everything there is to know about the English language. This one understands construction, syntax, and the 4,243 most important rules of using the written word. In other words, writing is a science and that’s that. Gregor believes this is the wrong cocktail for any writer. He notes that the very best writers usually broke the most honored rules. Sometimes they just made up their own rules. In other words, they were creative. Gregor also realizes that the English Specialist is not a writer, will never be a writer, and cannot qualify as a writer. So, there!

The I3. As in “I-cubed”. This one only wants to talk about his or her own stuff, their beautiful words, their flowing masterpiece, their immense impact on the literary universe. It’s all about the I3. They come to the group for strokes and nothing more. Everyone in the group knows this. Well, everyone but the I3. Boring and selfish, Gregor says. The group is not opposed to a few ego strokes but they don’t want to leave it all on a single doorstep. Would you? There must be room for everyone in the group.

I Have Arrived. Carries too much stuff in their arms. Books about this, papers about that, pamphlets about something else. The theory seems to be that the more stuff you carry around, the bigger the arrival statement. Pushes papers, thumbs through books, references minutiae. What’s this all about? There’s nothing in that stack of doo-doo that can be of much meaning to anyone else. What’s the point? Gregor thinks groups should come together to communicate and support each other, not read labels on tuna cans. A notebook should be enough. Bring your brain, leave your ego, listen more than you speak.

My Greatest Work. They’re not interested in what you write, only in what they’ve written. They want to submit themselves to the group but only if the group is willing to first submit to them. Gregor knows there are always better writers out there. He wants to learn how to get better at his trade, not understand how wonderful is the person across the table. Much like the I3 but uses some alleged publication to make the point. Urg.

The Eternal Critic. Everything is doodle. It doesn’t matter what, where, who or why. It’s doodle and the Eternal Critic knows it. If it wasn’t for the ability to criticize, this person would be entirely mute. That would be refreshing.

Swamp Gas?

My Writing is Swamp Gas. Maybe so, maybe not. No reason to assume it’s doo-doo. Also, no reason to assume that anyone else in the group can do any better. Gregor wants this person to keep writing, keep trying and don’t give up. He worries that this potentially great writer will be crushed by too many ego miscreants. Gregor also wants to remind this writer that no one else in the group is the hot tuna of the month. They are all learners, even if they won’t admit it. It’s OK to fail. Happens all the time, to all writers.

I Know Someone. OK, so you once met a real, traditionally-published author with a following. So what? Gregor has met them, too. Gregor knows that most genuine, working writers are not egomaniacs. So, why are you?

The Giver. Gregor’s favorite. The rare person who is there to give and learn, to share and support, to help others and gather some help along the way. It’s rare, but these folks are out there. They even go to writers groups, sometimes. Gregor suggests you look for them at the first meeting. No Giver? Find another group.

Gregor admits to having a bad attitude about writers groups. It all comes down to one thing – stifling creativity. Unless the group is completely focused on supporting creativity for each member, what’s the point? Gregor does not approve of turning writing into an exercise about rule-learning. He does not want to submit to the ego-drives of selfish members. He wants the group to be truly supportive, genuine in its work to help the creative process in an unselfish way. He doesn’t want to drink anyone’s cocktail, including his own.

Is Gregor living in a dream world? Oh, well. That’s the price of a failed self-lobotomy. Gregor is sure there are a few excellent groups in the Universe. He just hasn’t found any of them.

Gregor lives here.


2 thoughts on “Gregor Spanks Writers Groups

  1. I love this post – but do I love this post because I just can’t seem to do groups? And can I not do groups because there is something inherently wrong with said groups or with me? I confess to never having tried an actual writers groups, abysmal experiences with groups in general makes me nervous in particular about submitting my creative process to group processes. I really feel Gregor is on to something.

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