There’s nothing better (or worse) than having someone else hold you accountable. Peer pressure, when applied appropriately, can serve as an intense motivator, especially when it comes to writing. With all the other things I can find to fill my time, carving out even 10 minutes to add 250 words to the draft of my working novel often slips off the list. 

Enter The Writing Group. By chance, my partner mentioned to another martial artist our dojo (when we actually did things in person) that I was a writer. Said other martial artist has belonged to a writer’s group for several years and mentioned I could attend a group session and see if I liked it. 

Up to this point, this person and I were friendly, but not especially close, but they were nice enough and seemed excited to have me join. I was nervous because I’d not shared any personal writing with anyone aside from my partner in years. Like, well over a decade. And those pieces were far and few between, often amounting to little more than rough drafts of poems. 

I hadn’t attempted to write a novel since my (first) grad school days. That manuscript has sat on ice for nearly 20 years. But something told me I should go. We worked it out with the organizer and other members that I would attend one or two sessions and see if l liked it, and then start submitted my own work for critique. 

Through a series of unfortunate events: freak ice storms, college soccer senior day for my daughter, and basic scheduling conflicts, it came to pass that my first actual meeting was when I was put into rotation to submit a writing sample. So, I took a short story I wrote a million years ago and started to flesh out. 

Of course, I was so nervous. I hadn’t been part of a critique group since writing my first novel. I was afraid people would be like- dude, why are you even here? Naturally all that worry was unfounded. Everyone was lovely and gave solid feedback. 

As time has gone on, I’ve found more and more importance in these touchpoints. Every other week, we meet – via zoom now – and it’s a time to reconnect and be held accountable to keep writing. Take for instance next week is my turn to submit material again. It may be slim this time, but I’m still adding words. And that is more than half the battle. 

So thank you, Rust and Ink, for keeping the ink from coagulating in my pen. 

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