What Your Writing Group Won’t Tell You

Matthew Woodall
5 min readMar 29, 2021

But you desperately need to hear

Like many other people, I’m in some writing support groups on Facebook. You know the ones — people go to have their writing edited, their back patted, and to whine when they don’t get the results they expect from their writing. While these are a nice exercise in mutual admiration, very rarely do they provide any substantial help.

We all want to be known as nice people — I’m no exception. I’ve offered some advice and provided some basic editing/beta reading support for people. Rarely will I ever say what I really, truly think — I don’t know these people and I really don’t have the energy to get into an in-depth conversation about why I’m offering advice…especially if the advice is not what people want to hear.

So, to help all of us out I want to share with you the five things your social media writing group wants to tell you (but are too nice to do so).

Nobody is an overnight success.

I see this happen all the time, someone starts writing on an open platform and expects immediate success. They get pulled in by the idea of earning hundreds or thousands of dollars — only to find that their earnings are more often measured in pennies. I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m a professional writer who earns thousands of dollars a month — just not by writing on the internet. I just turned 40 this year, and in order to write effectively about the subjects that earn me my money I’ve had to devote most of my life to learning about them and learning how to write. When people look at me and see a “successful” writer, they don’t see the years of hard work and failure behind that success. By my estimation, I’ve written well over 100,000 documents of different types during my lifetime. These range from school reports and assignments, to abandoned novels and non-fiction books, to high-level classified briefings, to a simple children’s book I wrote for my daughter. For every word that gets published, I’ve written a million more that have never seen the light of day for one reason or another. If you expect to show up and find immediate success without having done the work, then you will likely find yourself very surprised.

Write for yourself, not the algorithm.