The timing for the opportunity to write For All Who Wander was a good version of the perfect storm; all the necessary elements were in place to set me up for success. I’m not suggesting I thought commercial success for the book was guaranteed, but rather, that I was in a favorable position to write it–
- I was in a good place spiritually and genuinely believed the opportunity was God-given
- I had a strong community of friends and family supporting me
- I had the bandwidth to allow for sufficient writing time
- and I had recently met Jeannie Waters
Time would reveal that my serendipitous meeting with Jeannie would eventually lead to something missing from my writing life: accountability and encouragement in a real life setting.
I am 100 percent convinced that God arranged a Divine Appointment for me and Jeannie to meet 2½ years ago, at the gym, of all places. On that fateful day, Jeannie was there at her typical time, but I was hours later than my normal workout. I explained to our trainer that I was late because of completing a writing deadline. Unbeknownst to me, our conversation was overheard by Jeannie.
“Excuse me,” Jeannie began once the trainer was out of earshot, “did I hear you say you were a writer…?”
Long story short: that was the moment a friendship was born.
Not long after, Jeannie and I got together to get to know each other better. She is one of those dear, lovely souls who brightens every room and conversation. For her, writing and blogging was a new pursuit, and she felt like I might be able to encourage her and offer insight and counsel. For me, I sensed a lifelong learner who was eager to share her life and experience. We gobbled each other up.
It was during that first meeting that Jeannie introduced me to Word Weavers, a “forum for Christian writers to critique one another’s work in a face-to-face format,” founded in 1997 and under the longterm leadership of Eva Marie Everson. I had considered joining writers groups before, but the more I learned about Word Weavers, the more I liked it. Word Weavers isn’t designed to teach you how to write, but its impact will make you a better writer.
All Word Weavers chapters use the Sandwich Critique Method. For this technique, a member brings a 1500-or-less-word manuscript to be read and evaluated. Group members take turns critiquing each manuscript, “sandwiching” their brief critique or feedback between positive affirmation. Writers of all levels have something of value to offer; every insight, comment, and constructive suggestion is worthy of consideration.
Several chapters in For All Who Wander were strengthened because of the comments offered by our group members. They prayed for and encouraged me throughout every step of writing, editing, and releasing the book. During one particular meeting when I shared my concerns and insecurities about being able to complete it, they were trusted colleagues who pointed me to Jesus while also cheerleading me to the finish line. Their fingerprints are scattered among its pages.
I’ve found Word Weavers (or any writing group) to be one the most encouraging things a writer can do. Online writing communities are helpful — I’m a member of several I deeply value and recommend! — but there’s no substitute for flesh and blood connection. With Word Weavers, members are expected to bring a manuscript to critique every month. That level of accountability will staple your behind to your chair and keep you writing, when writer’s block might otherwise thwart you.
If you’re in the middle-Georgia area, consider this your personal invitation to visit our Word Weavers chapter! (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details). If you’re a writer or are interested in starting, look for a group in your hometown, muster your courage, and join them! And, if you can’t find a writing group nearby, find a friend and start one yourself! (While you can structure yours any way you’d like, Word Weavers makes it so easy :). ) That’s what Jeannie and I did…and we’re still going strong.