Having been banned from at least three writers groups, I know a lot about their value. Today I would like to discuss how you can use (/ exploit) them to further your career.
But you’re thinking: “Mark, why would I join a writers group? Writing is a solitary art and, if the rest of the writing world is like me, they’ll all be awful humans I wouldn’t want to meet.”
Well, you’re right about one thing, writers are all like you. Awful. And chances are you won’t like a single one of them – I know I don’t.
But humour me a moment, and check out my three steps to making writers groups work for you.
I’m going to change your mind.
Step one: quell that loneliness
Let’s face it, your friends are sick of you. Your parents disowned you after you forced them to read that last piece of crap you called a novel. And you split with your girlfriend when she described your typewriter as “ridiculously inefficient”.
Luckily, there are fellow suffers who understand your plight. They’re called “Writers”. Or “The Enemy”. While they can’t provilong-termerm comfort (we’ll get to that), they can momentarily fill the hole in your heart left by all the people you used to know.
So find a group. Pray on the loneliness of its members to get some conversation and a bit of that sex stuff (without paying, for once). Then, when you’re getting sick of being surrounded by so many writers (usually between ten and twenty minutes), move on to step two…
Step two: steal ideas
We all know ideas are hard to come by, and yours are getting shitter by the day.
Fear not though, because many heads are better than one.
Once you’ve finished sleeping with your fellow writers, it’s time to try something radical. Listening to them. This will be boring, and at times you will want to fall asleep or hurt someone, but persevere. Sooner of later they’ll start talking about their latest ideas, and you’ll take notes.
Now, next break in the conversation, make an excuse and leave. Or run. Go home and start writing. Take the ideas, improve them if you have the skill (which you probably don’t if you’re resorting to thievery).
Churn out books on the back of these brain gems and never stress about devising a decent plot again. That is grunt work, and you are above that.
And if they accuse you of plagiarism?
Not an issue, because you’re ready to move on to step three.
Step three: take out the competition
Do you know how many people are trying to become a writer? A study in 2014 by the Writy Institute found it to be around 8 billion. A number that has risen by at least 4,000% each year since.
That’s a lot of competition, and odds are most of them will be much better than you.
So what are you to do? Keep improving until you’re good enough to play with the big boys (and girls). Not a chance. Do you know how many authors can live off their writer’s earnings alone? Seven (and J.K. Rowling is two of them)
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know those odds aren’t good.
That’s where you turn to your writers’ group.
You’ve come in, shagged them, stolen from them, and they’re pretty pissed off with you right now. So make it up to them with cookies and coffee, because everyone loves cookies and coffee.
Then sit back, smile on your face and a dancing joy in your heart as they drop around you, unable to jot down another word.
If it’s not clear, you poisoned the coffee and cookies.
And once that’s done?
Repeat… again, and again, and again. Until you and I are the only writers left.
And once we reach that point, you’d better watch your back.