How To Start A Writer's Group
Misery loves company!
There is your reason for starting a writer’s group in your area.
Just kidding, but I got your attention, right, and that is the whole purpose of an introduction.
Lesson one is now completed.
Now let’s move on to the reason for this article, namely how to start a writer’s group. First, though, for those of you who could easily be named Doubting Thomas, let’s take a look at the benefits of doing so.
A pro agrees
How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways
Too much to do already….don’t know how….can’t be bothered…..can’t see how it helps you….I know all the excuses, mainly because I have used them before. I had thought about starting a writer’s group for at least six months before actually doing it. I never had a problem coming up with a reason why I couldn’t do it. Getting out of something I don’t want to do is no problem for this boy. Unfortunately, I have this woman named Bev in my life, and Bev is determined that I will be successful. She is also my number one fan, so when she speaks I listen, and one day Bev was speaking to me and she asked me if I was going to keep making excuses or if I was willing to step out of my comfort level and do anything it took to become successful.
Dammit I hate it when we have those talks. LOL
So we went ahead and formed a small, informal group, and I can now speak from experience in telling you the advantages of forming your own writing groupl
- Sharing information with other writers which of course leads to growth
- Finding inspiration from the successes of others
- Supporting each other
- Encouraging each other
- Feeling like you are not alone
- Great, safe source of feedback and helpful suggestions
- Accountability in meeting the goals of the group
Rather than go over each one of those, which I believe are self-explanatory, I’ll give you an overview and then we can move on to the actual purpose of this article.
Yes, I belong to a writing community called HubPages, and yes, all of the advantages listed above are available to a certain extent in that community. However, there is something more personal in dealing with other writers one on one, in person, and there is also a sense of responsibility knowing you can’t hide within the anonymity of the internet. Dealing with other writers face to face pushes me outside of my safe cocoon and forces me to be much more accountable than an internet group like HubPages ever could.
Okay, so how do you form one of these groups?
FIND THE PLAYERS
For our group it was as easy as plumbing the depths of our friendships. We already knew several other writers, so we asked them if they wanted to join and they were delighted. However, not everyone has friends who live locally who are writers, so a little effort might be required.
Go to the local library and hang up a flyer. Go to the local bookstores. Advertise on craigslist, and advertise on the social media sites. Keep at it until you come up with the number of writers you are looking for.
ESTABLISH A MEETING PLACE
Usually these things are held at the homes of the writers, so either have one central meeting place or switch each week and have it at alternating houses.
You might also consider using a library meeting room or the backroom of a bookstore. Places like those are more than eager to help you with these sorts of undertakings. All you have to do is ask.
DETERMINE THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR GROUP
This is important so do it the first meeting. Why is it important? Because writers love to talk, and they love to get sidetracked, and before you know it small talk has eaten up fifty of your allotted sixty minutes and nothing has been accomplished.
The structure: what does an average meeting look like? You should be following some sort of format weekly or it will turn into a free-for-all and look like a Royal Rumble on WWF.
An online option
An online writer's group
- The Online Community for Writers - Writing.Com
Writing.Com is the online community for writers of all interests. Established in 2000, our community breeds Writing, Writers and Poetry through Creative Writing Help, Online Creative Writing Portfolios, Poetry, Writers' Tools and more.
You may not want to do this; your choice completely. We have a schedule that we follow, broken down into definite chunks of time. Why? Same reason as above.
Also done first meeting. What is the purpose of your writing group? Are you there to write and critique? Are you there to just be a support group? Are you there to informally share ideas, or practice just poetry or just prose?
To avoid confusion you really need to get this taken care of at the first meeting and it should be agreed upon by all before you continue.
CHOOSE A MONITOR/LEADER
I have a natural aversion to leaders and know-it-alls who want to hijack a meeting and take it hostage. Having said that, I definitely see the need to have a monitor/leader if you are going to get anything done at all.
One person needs to be responsible for keeping the meetings on-track and headed in the right direction. That position can be rotated weekly or monthly, thus allowing everyone a chance to be “leader” and preventing hard feelings from occurring.
New ideas, new goals, different directions….hey, people change and the dynamics of your group might and probably will change as well. I would suggest you go over your agenda and goals quarterly and determine if they are the same or if they need to be changed.
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What do you think? Are you willing to try forming a writer's group?
And That’s All There Is to It
And yes, that really is all there is to it. You can be as laidback or as formal as you choose. You can resemble a City Council meeting or a group of 60’s radicals with a cause.
Remember the reason you started the group in the first place….to improve and grow as a writer. Writing groups should always be a safe place of encouragement and positive growth. There is enough rejection in the writing world; don’t make your meeting a negative experience but rather one that each member looks forward to and embraces.
You now have your task for this week. Stop making excuses and consider starting your own writing group. You just might find, as this reluctant writer found, that you really do enjoy the experience.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”