By Susan Neal @SusanNealYoga
After several years of writing, I understand the loneliness that accompanies the life of an author. On most days, my biggest social interaction consists of liking posts on Facebook. My friends and family don’t understand my career nor its accompanying isolation. However, my Christian writers’ critique group members know and offer a remedy to my solitary journey.
My family wonders why I write because there seems to be minimal monetary reward. Yet, my fingers type with a fierce drive to put on paper what God has bottled up inside of me. Becoming a Christian author is similar to God’s calling on a pastor to preach, but our preaching is through the salting of our publications.
Several years ago, I heard about Word Weavers International while attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC) (http://www.floridacwc.net/). When I was close to finishing my first book, I joined the nearest Word Weavers group—70 miles away. Yes, I drive 140 miles round-trip every month to attend my critique group, and I wouldn’t miss it because my writer friends understand a Christian writer’s calling.
Do you belong to a writers’ critique group? My fellow members are not only my peers who provide exceptional advice to improve my work, but they have become my dearest friends. We pray for each other and encourage one another during the ups and downs of this unique career. In my Word Weavers’ group, I have found accountability partners and prayer partners. We also share resources that have worked for us.
One of my fellow Destin Word Weaver Critique Group members, Marilyn Turk (http://pathwayheart.com/), has been a member of non-Christian critique groups. I asked her to explain what she sees as the difference between Christian and non-Christian writing groups.
Marilyn states, “Wow, Word Weavers is so different.
1) We pray together (unheard of in secular groups).
2) We talk about spiritual things and acknowledge God as the one true God.
3) There is a specific, ‘sandwich’ format.
4) We are not competitive with each other.
5) There is a loving, supportive atmosphere in which we encourage each other and want to help each other.
6) We have lunch! Okay, well that’s not unique to all the groups, but the atmosphere is certainly different!”
I asked our fearless leader, Chris Manion (http://chrismanion.com/blog), why she chose to start this group in Destin, Florida.
Chris states, “I decided to create a local Word Weaver chapter because I was writing a Christian memoir and not getting the support I needed from the local writers’ critique group I had joined. They were not a Christian group, and as I was beginning to feel the effects of spiritual warfare as my book got closer to publication, I knew I needed prayerful support as well as critiques from believers.”
Currently, I am in the process of joining a second Word Weaver group which will be online. I am writing so much material, and need more critiquing than once a month. I am looking forward to meeting the members of this new group. I wonder if I will become close friends with them as I have the members of the Destin group?
At the 2017 BRMCWC (https://www.blueridgeconference.com/), Edie Melson told us that the people we were sitting with in the audience—our peers—would be the people that we would grow in the industry with, and it was important for us to make connections with them. Edie explained that her current peers in the publishing industry once sat with her in the same seats we were sitting in.
Writers’ critique groups provide an opportunity to get to know each other well. For example, Marilyn Turk, my fellow Word Weaver group member is the Director of the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat in Northwest Florida (http://bluelakecwr.com/), and she invited me to teach Scripture Yoga™ classes (http://christianyoga.com/) at the retreat earlier this year. Eva Marie Everson, the Director of the FCWC, attended this retreat and saw the positive response of conferees who participated in the Christian yoga classes. Now I will be teaching Scripture Yoga™ at the FCWC in 2018.
Critique groups provide excellent feedback for your work, Christian peers to pray and encourage you, and most importantly a fellow journeyer who understands the writer’s life. If you have been on the fence about joining a writers’ critique group, I highly recommend joining the Christian organization, Word Weavers International at http://www.word-weavers.com/.
If you are currently a member of Word Weavers, please comment below about your experiences, connections, and friendships that have grown out of your group.
Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS has published two books, Scripture Yoga which was a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book and Yoga for Beginners which ranked #3 in the yoga book category. She published two sets of Christian Yoga Card Decks, “How to Receive God’s Peace” and “Fruit of the Spirit” and two Christian Yoga DVDs, God’s Mighty Angels and What the Bible Says About Prayer. She produced a Hospice C.D., Bedside Encouragement: When You Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye. These products are available on Amazon and ChristianYoga.com.
Susan’s article Eatin in Eden was published in Clubhouse magazine. Her two digital products Eat to Live with a Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Glycemic, Anti-Inflammatory Diet, and How to Prevent, Improve, and Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia are great resources for attaining optimal health. These two products are sold on Gumroad.com and ChristianYoga.com. Susan has been interviewed on Moody Radio, Blog Talk Radio, and Premier Christian Radio from the UK.
Susan founded Scripture Yoga™, a form of Christian yoga, and enjoys leading classes in it at her church and fitness club. She is a speaker and enjoys teaching Scripture Yoga™ sessions at women’s retreats, Christian writers conferences, and yoga retreats.