Perks of a Writing Group

It’s happening again. I’ve got to tell you about the perks of being part of a writing group. In person or on Zoom, the Eastside Writing Room works!!

I’ve written before how a writing group can reduce procrastination and replace it with action. It’s inspiring when you think, “That is so cool. I’d like to find out more about blogging.” And motivating to the point where you do a BIC (butt in chair) and actually begin to write your blog, song, poem, letter to the editor, magnum opus.  A group also helps normalize the “stuck” times.

Way back in 1999 I had used up the litany of not-writing-yet phrases:

“I can’t find the time to write.”

“Too many interruptions.”

“I get distracted.”

“I’m too busy.”

When I said that last one, a tough love colleague barked, (well he didn’t really bark, but it seemed like it) “Come on – Either you want to write this book or you don’t.” A lighter version of “Either #%*@ or get off the pot.” And so I began to change my writing habits and attitude. 

Writing groups in New Jersey opened my mind to a wider possibility for my writing from “oh, it’s just for me and my second grade class”… to “for my family’ … to and for a wider circle – publish! Thank you to the writers at The Montclair Write Group and my Scriveners group.

Since 1999 I’ve been a member of one writing group or another that meets for the sole purpose of writing. I know this weekly commitment added to the successful publishing of my memoir, Thinking of Miller Place. (2008) and (2016). When I moved to Arizona in 2009 I knew a group that actually writes worked for me. 

The Eastside Writing Room

A few fledgling groups led to the formation of the Eastside Writing Room in 2013. Our group helps with accepting the inevitable rejections. And we celebrate the final product with colleagues/friends who have been along on the writing journey. Sure enough, my second book came together, got revised, edited, and published ––Seedlings, Stories of Relationships (2014.) Ten years later the benefits still roll in.The Eastside Writing Room continued meeting via zoom during the pandemic and decided to go hybrid after the pandemic ebbed.

More Than “Just” Writing

Since mid-June this year I saw a parallel trend emerging at EWR along with the creative works in progress. The parallel road is the business of writing for publishing, and work which calls for more factual skills, rewrite, edits, revisions, research for a final product. It can be a daunting experience finding an editor, publisher, social media expert, presenting workshops, filming, public speaking or marketing planner. Some of us have navigated successfully down those roads and we share our experiences.

2023 Milestones, aka Brags

Bee Bloeser:  Just finished her 51st  presentation for historical memoir, Vaccines & Bayonets: Fighting Smallpox in Africa amid Tribalism, Terror and the Cold War. October events: Life Long Learning – Green Valley, AZ; Senior Academy – Vail, AZ;  Dusenberry-River Library – Tucson AZ; featured speaker – Westmont College Faculty Forum – CA.

Ethel Lee-Miller:  Storyteller at Tucson’s Odyssey Storytelling June DNA and September Arms and Legs shows. Completed a spiritual autobiography for interfaith course, Tacheria.

Jennifer Beauchamp:  Finishing touches inserting photos for families in book series, Roots Tied Down. Book #1 Gordon Ancestry. Book #2 Hess Ancestry. Jenn is the writer, ancestry researcher, interviewer, formatter, for this saga of the four families in her ancestry.  

Linda Moran: The Perks of Hospice: Stories of Love, Life, and Loss (Amazon). Regular contributor to Thoughts and Ideas, a publication at

Pam Alexander: Published Black Bear Killer, the fifth novel in a mystery series (pen name Pam Fox). Completed poetry manuscript under own name. Poetry review in The Sharpener, Sean Singer Substack blog (9/16/23). Three poems accepted by Ocean State Review (print), and one by Amsterdam Review (online). 

Pamela Asbury-Smith: Now working with an editor for WIP, Death in Waikiki.

Paul Zohav: “Marriage and Communication: Recipes for Life. Manuscript to the publisher – end of September, 2023.

Paula Brown: “Missing Beth Who Was Always Here,” in Letters I’ll Never Send: An Anthology, by Jackie Bluu. Release  Nov. 2023 (Amazon). “Because Heaven,” essay in Dec. Persimmon Tree (online journal).

Penelope Starr: Desert Haven, a novel in linked stories – coming Spring 2024, Rattling Good Yarns Press. Presented 2 four-week workshops – “Dear Diary: Establishing Your Journal Practice” and “Writing Fun and Games,” both sponsored by S. AZ Senior Pride. 

Rhema Sayers: “Into the Fog” in Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine,  anthology. New articles in The Desert Leaf: “Memorial Day.” Also coming up in 2023, “The Great Molasses Flood in Boston 1919.“

Sally Lanyon:  Moving into new writing territory – young adult historical fiction. Road Scholar trip to the novel’s locations to experience characters’ settings/world view. Highlights for Children course -“Shaping Your YA Novel.” Works in progress: memoir pieces on Spirituality. 

Susan Smith: Soon to be published My Heart Attack Saved My Life, But For What? One woman’s path to discover how change can bring you freedom. Diving into Tucson Festival of Books– submitting book for author panel, and three stories to TFOB Literary Awards. 

All of us in The Eastside Writing Room have watched, cheered, and been part of this process. Kudos to our fellow writers!

What’s next?  Anything is possible.

Are you in a writing group? What kind? How’s it working for you?

You are welcome to give the Eastside Writing Room a try. Contact Ethel.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She retired after 28 years of teaching, semi-retired from coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, in Tucson Arizona, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, teaching about the power of words, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.