Creativity in Numbers: The Advantages of Writing in a Group

Hornets' nestI spent this Sunday at a friend’s kitchen table. There were six of us sitting there elbow to elbow with a singular purpose in mind: draft a synopsis for a romance novella, and write nine thousand words of it.

Although only the most ambitious of us made it even halfway to the nine thousand word mark, we all went home feeling satisfied with the day’s work and more than capable of finishing the stories from the point where we’d left off. Even if you don’t wind up accomplishing great creative feats (and for me, nine thousand words on a balmy Sunday is exactly that), writing in a group can give you some wonderful things.

For starters, the feedback is instantaneous when you’re all gathered around a table, which makes it much easier to play with ideas. I think that we as writers often ask ourselves, “Is this silly?” with no real hope of getting an honest answer. Writing in a group can not only tell you whether or not your idea works, but also help you figure out what you’d have to tweak to make it work.

Writing in a group is also great for picking up new techniques and reexamining familiar ones. We all carry around in our minds a collection of narrative devices we’ve picked up from authors here and there. When you have five or six of these collections in a room, you wind up with a vast and powerful collection of writing tools at the disposal of the group. This is a great opportunity to really ‘talk shop’ about your narratives and figure out the mechanics behind the techniques you like the most.

A lot of people, myself included, prefer to write alone. However, I’ve found that writing in a group has some benefits that are well worth the occasional journey out of my comfort zone.