I have served the last two years as president of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. This service has brought me into contact with a number of wonderful people, and I’ve made friendships I cherish. I’ve also helped to advance the cause of writing in the state through events and cooperation with other organizations. But I can’t say that this gig has helped my writing.
Part of this has to do with the time commitment, of course. Time spent on guild matters is time not spent on other things, and one of those could be writing. But that’s not really it. More significant is that to me, writing is a solitary act, spent inside my head most of the time, and involvement with a group doesn’t really advance that activity.
A lot of my fellow writers have critique groups that they meet with regularly, and the local writers’ guilds (the one in Columbia is a great one) provide opportunities for comment and feedback. When I was in graduate school, my workshop classes were filled with regular group interaction. But when all is said and done, my writing style is solo, just me and the keyboard and my imagination.
This is probably not the wisest of choices. Writing in isolation can lead me down blind pathways that I don’t recognize until I’m a long way down them, and perhaps a perceptive critique group would steer me better. But it’s the method I’m stuck with for now, by habit or by choice, so I might as well make it work as best I can.