Julee Stillman lives in Eynesbury, an outer western suburb of
What writing group/s do you belong to?
Wordsmiths of Melton
What is the structure of this writing group?
Wordsmiths of Melton is a critiquing group. From my past experiences with writing groups this makes us unique.
Is this writing group associated with a state or national organisation? No.
Does this group have affiliations with peak writing associated bodies?
No, but I, along with other writers within the group, belong to organisations such as Fellowship of Australian Writers and Victorian Writers’ Centre.
How many members does this writing group have?
As with all groups, the number of members varies from time to time. Currently we have eight members, but we have had as many as ten.
Does the writing group have a clearly defined goal in writing?
Our goal is to help each other, through constructive critique, to be the best writer each of us can be.
Are there any critiquing guidelines to follow?
Oh yes, most definitely. It is important to give honest, constructive opinion highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the work.
Are there any guidelines for people whose work is being critiqued to follow?
Yes. Do we always follow these guidelines? No, but we try.
Does the group have set guidelines for behaviour, and a process to remove members who are disruptive to the smooth running of the group?
Yes, we have strict guidelines and a copy is given to every new member.
Does everybody contribute to each meeting, or do you only hear from the same few people?
We are all in a different place with our writing – some are prolific scribes who have no trouble producing a short story each week, others need more time.
How long have you been a member of this writing group?
About three years, I think.
What is your role within this group?
I see myself as a supportive member. I led the group for a while until illness within the family meant this was no longer possible and I handed the reigns to Frank Ince.
What are the benefits to you from attending a writing group?
The support is essential to me. I am privileged to read and critique the work of others which helps me to see shortcomings in my own writing.
Why be in a writing group?
Writing is a lonely pastime. Belonging to a writing group brings me together with others who are passionate about their craft.
What do you look for in a writing group?
Support, encouragement, friendship and a sharing of knowledge is what I look for.
Does your writing group give peer critique or general comment?
We are a critiquing group so we give peer critique. On occasion, when requested, we give general comment, but that is rare for most of us look forward to receiving an in-depth analysis of our work.
What is the focus of your writing group – writing or poetry?
The majority of us are writing longer works, either memoirs or novels.
Can the two be successfully combined in terms of critiquing?
I believe they can.
Is there anything you would like from your writing group that is missing at the moment?
No. If there was a hole in our structure I am sure one of the members would raise the issue and we would amend the situation.
Have you belonged to any other writing groups?
Oh yes, but none as worthwhile as Wordsmiths of Melton.
Have you had a negative experience in a writing group?
Yes, quite a few years ago. A group of writers is no different to any other group – personalities clash, ambition overrides discretion.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of joining a writing group?
Not all writing groups are the same. Be sure the one you join is the one that suits you.
Is there anything you would like to add?
A good writing group is one that encourages you to build on your skills as a writer, supports you through the lean times, and celebrates with you when you reach your personal goals.
Thank you, Julee, for participating