Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reflections from the Founder of South Jersey Writers Group

Janice Wilson is very modest person, and a lot of people don 't realize that she was the founder of the South Jersey Writers Group. While we were at the Philadelphia Writers Conference, I had a chance to speak with her. Here is the interview below. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been writing since I was about 13 years old, and it began with short story swaps with a friend in school.  The stories turned into novels, and even when she became too busy or bored with it, I kept going.  Plus, I kept dream journals.  I can’t possibly stop now!  J


I have a daughter who inspired a lot of what I write, and she’s my biggest fan and my best encourager. 


The writing journey has taken a winding path through some interesting projects and opportunities as well, such as church newsletters, website copy, business writing for work, getting published, winning contests, starting a writers’ group, and teaching classes for others to get published.  Everything was equally challenging and rewarding, and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead in life.


What inspired you to start the South Jersey Writer’s Group?

A few years ago after some life changes, I had gone through a long bout of writer’s block, and my daughter missed my writings, so she encouraged me to start it again.  But I needed like-minded friends to support and motivate me. I went into the nearby bookstore to see if they had a group already, and they did not have one.  So I wrote a few ideas down, walked in, proposed it and just at that time they were looking for a leader.  It was one of those perfectly timed meant-to-be kind of things. 


In the last seven years, I have learned a great deal more from the other writers than what they learned from me, including what I am capable of doing and achieving.  The support of our writers has been a tremendous blessing and help for me.


Why is it important to belong to a writing group?

I am firmly convinced that the understanding of other artists help to motivate, guide, and shape us into better writers, and more committed to actually doing the work.


We also learn from each other, and we cheer each other through every little step, good or bad.


Yes, find a writers’ group and if there is not one around, form your own!  The rewards don’t stop, and you find extended ‘family’.


What do you like to write (types of stories)?

For the most part, I love to share my faith in stories and novels.  But I also love a good fiction novel with intrigue, twists, and surprises, so I want to learn to write like that as well.  Most of all I like to keep it REAL, like real people having real decisions to make in the prevalent issues we face.


Once in a while I dabble in poetry or other genres for fun and mental exercise, but for the most part it’s typically short stories, exploratory essays, and fiction novels.


You’ve been to the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference this year. Was it worthwhile going and what did you take away from this experience?

It was worth every penny, and especially since my attendance was made possible as a wonderful gift from a loved one, I made the most of it by going every day, entering every contest, and networking with a lot of fabulous and talented people.  From all walks of life, and some seasoned travelers, the writers and instructors motivated, enriched and encouraged me to continue what I’m doing, making it better, and they all gave me a needed boost to show it to the world.  I was pleasantly surprised to win an award for a genre that I just started to explore.  The fact that someone else found it worth reading and enjoyable shows me what else I can accomplish if I just try.

                                                   Janice after wining her award                                

I would recommend going to some kind of writer’s conference in a writer’s lifetime!!


What advice would give to anyone interested in writing?

First, just WRITE!  Don’t edit, change or worry just yet.  Also, READ!   Read all the books by your favorite authors, really dig in and ask yourself what it is you like about their stories.  Then try and emulate what you do like but in your own style, which you will develop over time. 

Never throw out/delete what you write, because I have used old things and refreshed them so many times!  I recommend keeping journals, and be descriptive.

And join a writer’s group or form one.  Explore the publishing world together. 

Follow the guidelines when you submit work and celebrate!

Take your time and most of all, ENJOY IT!  It is an art form, your passions and dreams just come out through a pen (or keyboard) instead of a brush or body movement.

 Thank you so much for this interview, Janice. You were instrumental in bringing all kinds of writers together as a group, and we are all proud to be members of the South Jersey Writers Group.
Please follow Janice on the sites below.

Janice M. Wilson

Twitter: soothingprose

FB:  Soothingprose

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