Outgrowing an Organization
By Cait Collins
Writers’ organizations can be very valuable. New writers may have great ideas, but may not know how to best craft the story, develop the characters, and move the plot. A good writing group can help a newbie get started in building a foundation. Meetings might offer workshops hosted by published authors in characterization, plots and sub plots, editors and agents, marketing, and formatting principles. The sessions are a gold mine for the beginner.
As a writer progresses in developing his craft, his needs change. He goes from baby food to meat and potatoes. Instead of writing one genre, he’s working in multiple categories. He needs more specific information regarding his new directions. He asks the program committee if it would be possible to have presentations on writing contemporary westerns but receives no positive responses. What about creative non-fiction? The response is there are not enough people interested in the genre, so it can’t happen. The next three meetings are repeats on marketing, social media, and plotting. The writer becomes frustrated and begins to occasionally skip a meeting. His absences become more frequent, and finally he stops attending. But he still pays dues.
It is possible to outgrow an organization. The decision to leave the organization need not be negative. It is possible the current group does a great job educating newer writers, but they falter in providing more advanced programs. When skills and knowledge progress beyond the offerings, it may be time to cut ties with the organization and move on. Conduct online searches for a writing group that specializes in the new genre. Check references, and if possible, attend a meeting. Check for online instruction if the meeting times and locations make an in person visit difficult.
When the decision to move on is made, the writer should be professional. He should notify the membership chairperson he will not be renewing his membership. It is not necessary to go into details. Simply state his goals have changed and he has found an organization that specializes in his new direction. He should thank the members for their support and wish them success in their endeavors. This courtesy will be appreciated by the chair as he or she will not have to spend time sending out reminder letters and making follow-up phone calls.
Leaving on good terms is to the writer’s advantage. By remaining professional bridges are not burned. The members will still be willing to support his goals and buy his books. Besides we are all part of a large fraternity. We need each other.