While writing is a solitary process, it can be helpful to interact with other writers. You can join a writing group to receive feedback on your work-in-progress and learn new ways to hone your craft. And it’s nice to have the support of others who understand the writing life! But what if there isn’t a writing group in your area? There are online writing groups you can try—or you can start your own writing group! The experts at Writer’s Relief have some great tips and advice on how to start a writing group.
Guide To Starting A Successful Writing Group
Choose A Time And Place
Determine the best day and time for your writing group to meet. Will you get together every Tuesday evening, or once a month on a Sunday afternoon? The availability of the location you choose may play a factor in how often you can meet and when. The local library may have an available meeting room you can reserve, or a café or bookstore might have a quiet corner where you can hold regularly scheduled gatherings. If possible, select a central location that’s accessible to most people. Be sure to set and follow a consistent schedule so the group members can plan accordingly.
Connect With Other Writers
Once you’ve pinned down a location, time, and schedule, invite local writers to join your group! Use your social media platforms to spread the word, and consider creating a group on Meetup.com to reach more potential members. You could also post flyers advertising your writing group in nearby stores, cafés, and the public library. Ask your venue if they would also mention your writing group on their events calendar.
To ensure your meetings run smoothly, you should have some basic rules in place. Guidelines will ensure discussions stay on track and keep the meetings cordial. For example, you should have a rule about critiquing: All feedback should be positive and instructive—no bashing, attacking, or hurtful comments. You want your writing group to be a safe place where writers will feel comfortable offering and receiving honest, helpful feedback.
Determine The Meeting Structure
Decide before your first meeting how you’ll structure your creative writing group. Each writing group is different: Some are focused on critiques, others on writing exercises, still others on guest speakers, and there are writing groups that are a mix of these three elements and more. You might focus on short stories or poetry, or accept all genres of writing. A writing group can be very formal or laid-back and relaxed. Set the expectations at the start, but consider adding or subtracting elements based on your group’s skills and interests.
Respond To Feedback
While you should start with a definite structure and plan, the needs of your writing group may change as time passes. Allow your members to provide feedback to determine what works and what doesn’t. You might start out as a group that focuses on critiques, only to find that an occasional meeting featuring writing prompts provides a welcome burst of creativity. Or you may discover having a guest speaker now and then keeps your group discussions fresh and lively. You might even want to have a yearly open reading event—which may attract new members!
Stay The Course
After all your planning and preparation, your first meeting might have fewer attendees than you’d hoped. Don’t give up! It may just take time for other writers to become aware of your group. Keep in mind also that memberships can fluctuate up and down. But if you notice you’re not getting or keeping writers, reevaluate your group’s structure, meeting place, date, or time—would something else work better? Staying flexible and responsive will help your writing group succeed.
Encourage Learning And Growth
Whether your creative writing group is filled with experienced writers, newbies, or a mix of both, we can all learn something new and improve our craft. And when a piece has reached its full potential, encourage your writers to submit their work for publication! Writer’s Relief can help: We’ll research and pinpoint the very best markets to boost a writer’s odds of getting published. Visit our website or contact us today—we’ll be happy to talk to you about our services!
Question: What type of writing or structure does your writing group focus on?