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Why Writing Groups Matter

October 28, 2015

New York Times article recently discussed whether or not one can improve the brain’s function by doing puzzles, brain exercises, or other activities. While the results weren’t conclusive, I gleaned some helpful hints: One, that physical exercise has a positive effect on the brain, particularly for women my age. Two, believing you can improve your brain increases the likelihood of doing so (see Carol Dweck, Mindset). Three, socialization improves the mind.

Since I prize my wide range of friends from different parts of my life, I was particularly gratified to learn that one’s social circle enhances the brain function. I do know that practicing my hobbies and interests with others who share these interests motivates me to do more, to do well. My musical ability improves when I don’t have to play alone. I’m much more productive in an art class that I am alone. (At home, I tend to amass materials I am going to use–eventually.)

Writing groups have also proven useful to me. I’ve met with a prose group for quite awhile. We’re a diverse group and have enjoyed going to Weymouth Center for the Arts in Southern Pines for short writing residencies. Now I have an active poetry group as well, women I met through Poetry Hickory and Art of Poetry.

Even though one must devote quiet, solitary time to write–and not just sit around talking about writing–what I get from a writing group is invaluable–encouragement, genuine feedback, group-imposed deadlines, and involvement in small projects. Our sharing sessions confirm what I learned long ago about teaching too: There are so many right ways to do something. If I can glean what is useful from my companions and celebrate what they do well that doesn’t necessarily work for me, the interaction is useful.

On top of that, my brain get sharpened.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 28, 2015 7:14 pm

    That’s great, thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

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