Those of you who know me know that I continuously advocate the existence of creative writing groups. Being a writer can be, by its nature, a fairly solitary existence so being part of a group (or in my case 3) can be invaluable. As well as the companionship, it is also important to have someone (who isn't your mammy) to share your writing with, get (honest!) criticism from and bounce ideas off.
One way of getting into a group is to do one of many creative writing courses that regularly spring up around the country. These are normally organised by the likes of the Arts Council, the Writers Centre or Filmbase and, as well as the obvious educational merits, these courses allow and encourage writers to network with each other, out of which a writers group might be born.
The writers group that I am in in Naas, Co. Kildare, came about as a result of such a course. We have been together now since 2005 and are still going strong.
One other merit to a writing course is that it might get you working on a novel/movie/short story that otherwise would never have even been conceived. I know that as it recently happened to me. But more about that later!