Finding a writing group can be difficult, not unlike this sign post. Photo displaying a signpost to Mt. Difficulty, a mountain on the South Island which is also well known for the prestigious winery there.

Imagine a magical place where writers help foster each other’s craft, provide valuable feedback and encouragement, and culture an environment to let our creativity grow—become better writers. They call these wonderful places Writer’s Groups. And I had been in the market for one for over a year.

Back in my early twenties, Sarah and I were part of a fantastic writing group full of people in all stages of their writing career. There were a few established authors with extensive catalogues of books who provided amazing feedback and encouragement, as well as us novices who soaked up all information anyone was willing to offer us. The feedback we received back then was invaluable and contributed massively to where we both are today.

But life took me to a different city, and for a few years, I stopped writing all together (researching and writing a three-hundred-page PhD thesis will do that to you). Eventually, when I finished my thesis, I was drawn back into writing again. And ever since, I’ve been looking for a writing group again. I tried to join a couple different groups, but they always fell through for one reason or another.

Finally, a couple months ago, I finally found a group that has welcomed me with open arms. And it has been everything I remembered, plus some. First and foremost, they provide excellent feedback (both positive and negative) in a supportive environment. And that is what every writer craves. You can’t become a better writer without getting critiques. The more people who can provide you with constructive feedback, the better. The act of giving feedback has also opened my eyes to different writing techniques and styles—seeing the mistakes others make, can also help you find and fix the mistakes in yours.

But it’s not only feedback. I am lucky that I co-write with Sarah, as it means we always hold each other accountable for continuing to write, and having the additional pressure of a writing group waiting to read and critique the next instalment of your work adds a little extra motivation and an extra layer of accountability. Not to mention the constant encouragement to keep writing—don’t quit, there are always rough patches on the way to finishing a novel. Often, the people in your writing group have felt the same way as you, at some time or other.

If you’ve ever thought of joining a writing group, but couldn’t decide if it was right for you, I recommend trying one out. It’s great for refining your writing craft and meeting a bunch of friendly, likeminded people along the way.