When I first started out as a writer with an aim to getting published, some creative friends and I decided to form a writing circle. We had a name for our group, which I’ve long-since forgotten, and we met once a week in a pub after our day jobs to exchange notes and feedback on each other’s current work-in-progress. It worked well for a few months. Illness, busy day-work schedules or other excuses often got in the way. In the end the group fizzled out, as life got in the way. At that time, none of us had yet been published. We needed each other’s beta-reader feedback as we were all starting out and wanted some reassurance about our work. Was it good enough? Did anyone know of any magazines that were open to submissions? What about writing competitions?

Joining a writing group is a good idea, both for those starting out, but also for more established writers. I think it’s good to assess what you want out of it and then weigh up whether you think a writer’s circle is best for you. To help, I’ve broken it down into the pros and cons as I see it:


1. Getting feedback on whether a story/idea works or not, at an early stage. This can help you decide if it’s worth your time-investment.

2. Finding out about magazines or competitions to submit your work to.

3. An ego boost. It’s nice to hear if a piece you’ve written was good, especially if you’re having writer’s block or on a downer about your work.

4. A source of ideas and inspiration.

5. Friends. Let’s face it, most writers are hermits. We busy over our keyboards alone. It’s nice to get out into the real world sometimes.


1. Not everyone in the group may have similar goals. Some may be there as a hobbyist while others may be geared towards publication – make sure you’re getting from the group what you need.

2. Ego-clashes. It can happen, unfortunately. You might be unlucky to find that someone in the group takes a jealous dislike of your work and decides to criticise you harshly. I once experienced a fellow writer who slammed three chapters of a novel draft that I was working on, but only after a rather heated discussion admitted that she thought I was a ‘versatile writer’ and wished she could have such range. Be careful. Not everyone in a writing group has good intentions.

3. If you are insecure about sharing your work or feeling fragile as a writer. Bear in mind that sharing your work opens it to scrutiny. Even if people in the writing group aren’t attacking your work/have ulterior motives (see point 2 above), simply receiving constructive criticism can be gutting for some writers if they don’t have a thick skin to take the feedback. Even receiving well-meaning comments about typos and punctuation errors can make a writer cringe, especially when they are aiming for perfection with a final draft. Make sure you are prepared to receive constructive feedback, and ready to take any comments on your book-baby.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has written four novels, including award-winning ghost horror, The Blue Man, as well as three poetry collections. Her writing confronts the nature of self; her novels feature main characters on a dark psychological journey who have a crisis of identity and create a new sense of being. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing literary journal with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from publishing pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary lad, a voracious reader of sea monster books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/75c5a1ad6956/leilanie-stewart-author-info

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