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Getting it Done in a Focus Group

The Rogues Gallery Writers continue to develop our book, The Method Writers. While we work each week on putting this book together, we also work our respective jobs, deal with our respective families and relationships as well as participating in other writer’s groups, most notably the Florida Writers Association. We stay busy.

We scramble for time to get things done. Our time frames and time tables get skewed often. We know what it’s like to struggle to get something written each day, yet we persevere. This is why I recommend every writer should be a member of a small, tight-knit focus writing group.

Without the support, encouragement and prodding of people you respect, writing becomes a tough mountain to climb. I participate in a critique group as well as a large writer’s group (FWA), and both serve me well. Yet, without the Rogues, I don’t believe I would be nearly as prolific. In fact, without the Rogues, most likely I would be mired in the throes of stalled novels and have only one book published.

At this writing, I have three books out with two more on the slate for 2011. I have momentum and encouragement. I am pooled with four writers who, frankly, own stronger writing pedigrees than me. The true benefit of this small group of writers can be very intangible. I feel this benefit is measurable as well.

Production is what every writer struggles with in his or her quest to navigate the writing life. Whether that production comes under deadlines or days staring at blanks screens or pages, the struggle tends to be universal in the writing community. A focus group must not only include simply writers, but personalities that mesh.

Personality clashes can destroy momentum, chemistry and ultimately production. Finding that special group of like-minded writers that click can be an evolutionary process. Do not get discouraged. Sometimes growing pains hurt, but in the end, the group prospers.

My recommendation is four or five authors. Four has worked well for the Rogues, but my sense is five is optimum for us. Thus far, we have not been able to get five Rogues going at one time. Technically we are five at this time, but one of our best, Rebekah Hunter Scott, has taken a ‘maternity leave’.

She is idle by no means. Rebekah currently promotes her first book Motherhood is Easy: as long as you have nothing else to do for the next 50 years (2010 Royal Palm Literary Award winning book in the Humor category) and is writing a follow up book – Pregnancy is Easy: as long as you are not the one pregnant. Rebakah’s wit has landed her in major national slick magazines like American Baby and Parents.

Obviously, with two children currently in the home, she has her hands full. The Rogues miss her dearly. We are also unstoppable. We have a head of steam going on our current group project, and each of us have individual projects moving along nicely as well.

Consider putting together a number of writers in a focus group. Choose carefully, selecting those people who blend well with each other. The writers do not need to write the same genre. In fact, the Rogues are as diverse a group of writers as you can get. I lean toward poetry and sci-fi. Jeff is more literary fiction, bloody fiction and ghost writing. Nancy is a murder mystery writer. Rebekah writes strong humor as well as some serious fiction. Bridget writes strong psychological fiction as well as tough dark humor fiction.

We each are not confined to the tendencies listed above either. My feeling is that each Rogue is willing to step out into many genres if the occasion calls for the effort. Our diversity helps us get multifaceted feedback too. That said, I could see a focus group being successful if everyone wrote the same genre. In some ways, that group’s dynamics would have to be even more personality compatible given that all the writers would be writing similar material.

Now the commercial. You had to know it was coming. Writing is a very tough business. Most writers cannot afford to quit their day job. The Rogues Gallery Writers are no different. We do have a couple books out. We need people to support us. One cool way is to purchase our books. We’ve even made that simple.

We produced the book More Writing is Easy in PDF format (available through ClearView Press) for a paltry $1.99. That’s not painful, is it? This book is like a ‘teaser’ of what we can do. It is also available on Kindle for $2.99. For that price, you can take a chance on us, right? Then, when you love the writing, we have a full-length collections of short stories titled Writing is Easy. This book is also available through CVP as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million and Kindle.

C’mon! Give the Rogues a chance. I’m telling you, we work hard and we write extremely well.

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