Friday, 16 November 2012

Teach a girl to fish…

What’s the old saying? ‘Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll never see him on weekends…’

I’ve been in a writing group for some time now. It comprises four women and we call ourselves Big Fish. The name was an off the top of the head idea from one of our members. At the time it had no particular meaning for us but it stuck.

Big Fish meets for a few hours every 4 to 5 weeks subject to changes due to work, childcare, illness, appointments and life in general. Our agreement is that for each  session, we all commit to producing a piece of writing that we can workshop. We email the pieces to each other a few days before and when we come to the session, after the obligatory coffee and gossip, we get down to business.

The group brings discipline to our writing and for me in particular with chronic health problems, it's an anchor. My output and quality of writing would not be the same without the support of my Big Fish colleagues. While each of us is at different stages in our writing careers, we all bring something to the table not the least of which is our commitment to our work and to each other. We share resources with one another, offer encouragement when one of us feels like giving up and when one of us has something published or another writing-related success, we celebrate. A writing group is an effective strategy for pushing the word output along. Firstly, there is a deadline—always a great incentive for getting the work done. Secondly, there is a readership interested in the work and in making the work better. Thirdly, there is constant learning from the feedback.

We a true ‘school’ of fish; learning with every critique we take on-board. Some days we are sardines and some days we are sharks. We let each other know if we are using the wrong line, if we are missing a good hook and we talk about where to fish deep and when shallow is best.

As it turns out, the group name was inspired. I find I’m a better writer when I take time out to go fishing.