I think one of the benefits of going to a writer’s group (apart from having your writing critiqued, of course) is that you get to see how other writers approach their work and to compare it with your own modus operandi.
Writing is one of the few forms of delusion that is socially acceptable. I mean, there aren’t many outlets for your fantasies which are so cheap, convenient and which don’t involve plain envelopes, PVC and the risk of social ostracism. Start talking to the chap sitting next to you on the Clapham omnibus about journeying to a virtual world run by long-dead psychopaths (a la the Demi-Monde) and it won’t be long before you’re interfacing with men in white coats and getting up close and personal with an industrial-sized helping of thorazine.
Yeah, the more deranged of our fellow citizens might occasionally visit Cloud Cuckoo Land but few of them are as intent on building a holiday home there as are most SF writers.
Because of this – and because writing is, by definition, very much a solo occupation – there is, I suspect, a real danger that writers can lose perspective. So it’s useful, once a week, to touch base with Planet Earth (even if it is a Planet Earth that occupies different temporal and spatial co-ordinates, but I digress).
And the lodestone of normality at the Renegades is Misha.
Misha is one single-minded lady. Every week she brings in another chapter of the second book relating the adventures of Lettie that she’s writing. She never seems to get fed-up or to succumb to writer’s block (or, as it’s called in the Real World, Can’t-Be-Arsed-Itis) or to get side-tracked and I think it is this determination that will see her books published in the end.
Self-discipline like Misha’s is I think vital for any writer – they’ve got to be able to resist the temptation of ‘Busy Work’, doing things that are related to their writing but which ain’t directly involved with finishing the story they’re working on. Things like writing a blog when you know you should be working on Demi-Monde 4.