Over the weekend I read this great collection of advice for writers by Anne Lammot called Bird by Bird. The goal of this short little book is to help young writers learn more about the design and publication of fiction but, aside from the self-help format, what really caught my attention is this extract about encouraging other writers to join a community of like-minded folks:
There are always a couple of rank beginners in my classes, and they need people to read their drafts who will rise to the occasion with respect and encouragement. Beginners always try to fit their whole life into ten pages, and they always write blatantly about themselves, even if they make the heroine of their piece a championship racehorse with an alcoholic mother who cries a lot. But beginners are learning to play, and they need encouragement to keep their hands moving across the page.