Friday, April 2, 2010

Creative Groups

How many of you belong to a writers' group? A painting group? A music group? How many of you attend a weekly/biweekly/monthly poetry slam or open mic?

Most artists recognize the need to get with other artists, share their work, and get feedback (especially the writers among us). I've started three different writers groups (only one still running), and I've been part of all sorts of other groups for creative types. I currently have a spectacular group of playwrights I meet with a few times a month, and our interaction has certainly helped my playwriting develop more effectively than if I had gone it alone. I've moaned a few times about not having a similar group for my other genres of writing, and I'd LOVE a group where I could go and paint while other artists are also creating art.

This past weekend's writers conference introduced another idea to me, however. Instead of forming a group for critiquing work--so that we can bring in poetry or short stories, read them aloud, and figure out ways to improve them--several presenters were part of what they called a "creative group." Rather than bringing and sharing material, these people meet several times a month so that they can talk about the writing/painting/drawing/singing/music/etc. creative process. They share their fears about their own work, their goals, the struggles holding them back, stress, rejection, successes, etc.

They do not share and critique their work. In fact, the people in these groups come from every creative pursuit. Some are band members, some painters, some photographers, along with several kinds of writers. The creative genre isn't important. The pursuit of some sort of creative venue is all that is required. One of these groups has lasted more than 20 years!

So, what is the benefit of such a group? Consider what we do online right now, only in person. Support. Understanding. Reaching out and communicating with other people who are trying their hands and creative things. My husband loves me, but he doesn't understand my goals. He actually compares my writing pursuits and goals to his playing fantasy football (yes, that's as close as he can get, poor guy).

Oh, but to have people who may not go about their creative adventure in the same way, but who are on similar roads... that would be wonderful. When I felt like I should just give up writing, I'd have people who understood my misgivings. When I was elated, I could share that joy, too.

Hey, wait a minute! Am I a moron or what? I already have that! It's right here, right now, with all of you...

Bonus! (Now if you just lived around the block, life would be perfect!)


  1. Yes, creative groups are priceless. I belong to one that has been meeting nearly once a week for about 10 years. We originally got together to make a quilt for fundraising for the local school. Now we still quilt together but each of us has such diverse creative interests (writing, shoe-making, horticulture, craft, photography, public health research) that the support we receive from each other is something that we all cherish.

  2. Agreed. It's the same reason I'm here.

  3. I agree... I love to read what you write, I love to grow from you knowledge. You and steph are the main reasons I still blog... if you two stay active-- no doubt I will. Thx for all you do.

  4. I never met a writing goal I could not ignore. I have no skill at letters I can readily acknowledge. I write because I can, that whole "must" thing had a Y added to it many years ago. I do go to a creative writing group but we never talk about creativity anymore. Often though it is mentioned just how much my eyebrows need to be trimmed.

    Now about that fantasy football thing--what is that?

  5. Michelle - How awesome that you have this group, and can meet locally. I love online stuff, and now I just need to find more local inspiration and support. Writing is so solitary, but I need both alone time and time with others.

    Stephanie - I knew it was. Glad to know it's still helping, even with how busy you are. I'm amazed that you still manage to keep up with three blogs! I can hardly handle one.

    Jeff - I hope to stay active for quite a while yet. I'll always check out your page, too!

    Walking Man - Interesting... eyebrow trimming. I don't even tend to suggest those kinds of things to my own husband. And fantasy football? Think about it as a statistics video game. Ten football fanatics, ten teams of professional football players "drafted" by each "owner." They pair up against each other each week, and even have playoffs. My husband won the Superbowl last year... has the trophy (which is ghastly ugly). Last time he won he had a portrait made of himself with the trophy, too. I suppose we all have different forms of weird. If we didn't, we'd all be pretty boring.

  6. This blog is part of my support group too - although I mostly just show up for the meetings and listen, since I don't have anything artistic to contribute. You might even call me artless. :)

  7. Artless is a good word... I feel artless most of the time. Perhaps being artless also means your creativity is far more subtle and does not feel the need to bash anyone over the head to draw attention to itself.

    Just sayin'.