In my opinion quite a lot.
Everyone is encouraged to put pen to paper by being given ‘Homework’, which is a piece of writing on a certain subject about 250 words in length.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer, this gives you the opportunity to write what you personally think of the subject and you don’t have to worry if it will match someone else’s effort, because this is the way you see it and everybody is entitled to their opinion. It doesn’t have to be in prose. You can write a poem about the subject.
In the beginning, everyone is encouraged. No-0ne is uncomplimentary about what you write, so that by listening to other samples of writing, you can learn by example and discern what is good and what is poor. There will be pieces you will like more than others.
One of the advantages of being in a writing group is the opportunity to read out your work. For some people, it might be their first time that someone has heard what they have written. It can be quite frightening that their private thoughts have become public. For writers, this is something you have to overcome. So a writing group can be your first audience. Hopefully as time goes on you see them as friends, after all they are sharing their thoughts with you.
The next step is doing a ten minute exercise within the group. This is not homework, which is done in the privacy of your own home. This piece of writing is quite daunting as you don’t know the subject until you are given the task on the day. There is very little time to think abut it. It’s a matter of – ‘Here is the exercise and the time starts now’.
This exercise has proved useful as everybody has learned to lift their pen and somehow they start to write because they have so little time. It might seem like a load of rubbish at times, but there are always a jewel to be found amongst it.
Writers normally lead a lonely life because this is the life they have chosen, so a writing group can be a comfort zone and an oasis.