Some very positive comments about writers groups from overall 2008 Hennessy XO New Irish Writers Award, poet David Mohan, in Saturday's Irish Times. He belongs to Lucan Creative Writers Group.
In a recent post I quoted some of Dennis O'Driscoll's questions for Seamus Heaney from Stepping Stones about The Group. Here they are again with the first sentences of the answers by Heaney. Italics are as in the book.
Was there rivalry in The Group?
Not exactly in The Group. It was more that the consequences of The Group ratings had to be lived with outside it.
Would you describe the rivalry as having been at all times healthy?
I don't think the rivalry, if that's the right word, was ever unhealthy in the matter of writing, in the sheer aspiration to best yourself.
Interesting. Writers groups can be very positive and helpful. It can and should be a great help to a aspiring writer to have a sympathetic audience to listen to the work and offer comments. Trust has to be built up of course and comments must be positive as well as negative. There are dangers. The group must allow and accept differences of style and approach. The group must not seek to impose a "group style". In the end a writer must have confidence in his/her own work and must avoid being unduly influenced by other writers.