Writing can be lonely work unless you count your characters as company. Even if you’re writing non-fiction and interviewing people, the relationship is different than if you’re talking with friends.

That’s why I enjoy being part of a writer’s group. I’ve a member of a half dozen or so over the years and have enjoyed them all. It’s nice to get together with other writers occasionally and talk about projects you’re working on, the craft or even something totally unrelated to writing.

Sure, a lot of writer’s groups are about reading pieces and getting feedback, but the value I get from them is simply being able to talk to someone else who understands the frustration of writer’s block, the joy from having a book published or the sadness at having one rejected.

That said, here are the top five benefits of a joining a writer’s group as I see them. Let me know if you have anything different to add.

  1. Leads for new work. I actually got a new job writing a weekly column because a member of my writer’s group told me that the editors had changed at a local newspaper.
  2. Sympathetic ears. As I said, it’s nice to talk to someone who understands the writing life.
  3. Discussions about how to improve your technique. Lots of writers pay hundreds of dollars to hear other writers talk about creating fuller characters, writing vibrant dialogue and other things. In a writer’s group, you get it for free.
  4. Camaraderie. It’s nice to have friends with shared interests.
  5. Feedback on writing. What are you doing wrong? What are you doing right? Find out before you make a fool out of yourself by sending your manuscript to an agent.