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Because I’ve moved to a new town and have joined a group in formation, we discussed what the attendees would like to see in the writer’s club.
The discussion reminded me of types of groups:
Critique – feedback on your own and other’s writing
Discussion – can be on a specific topic or writing in general
Lecture/Talk – usually craft focused or inspirational
Write In – a time to work on your own writing
Workshop – craft or marketing focused with some hands-on activity
Both face-to-face groups and online groups can provide any of these services. All can be useful, but it depends what you are looking for.
For me a variety of these groups have worked over the years. I love the chance to learn through lectures and workshops. It’s so great when some piece of craft advice clicks. Or when the “so that how that’s done” aha moment happens. I’ve mostly done in person sessions, especially conferences, but more and more webinars are available from the comfort of your own home. In addition, these events often inspire me, whether it is simply to press on, or with a specific piece of information that makes me avid to jump back into my own work. No matter how many I’ve done these, I discover new tidbits each time I participate.
I’ve found write ins to be very practical. I’ve participated in them in coffee shops, libraries, retreats, etc. Each person focuses on their own project. Just the fact that others are working around me helps me keep my butt in the chair and my hands on the keyboard. I like a weekly schedule. Headphones are helpful in a public place where conversations around me can be distracting. Mostly I’ve formed these with likeminded writers, but sometimes organizations will schedule them too.
Discussion can be fun, especially if it is focused. I’ve been in groups where we shared favorite books by genre, or good first lines, or marketing tips, etc. Having a theme makes the discussion more practical. I’ve found an unfocused group can end up being a gripe session, or can wander completely off writing.
But for me probably the most important group is a critique group. I’ve learned so much by what others have said about my work (the good and bad) and what I’ve seen in their writing, too. We encourage each other to press on. We inspire one another. Our meetings provide a deadline to have pages ready. Not only have we helped improve our writing by consistent meetings, but we’ve become close friends and family because of the time spent together.
How do you find a writer’s group? Check with your local library. Search online for writer’s groups in your area. Research national and international writing organizations. If you’re on Facebook, you can find groups there, too. Join writer list serves which often announce events or groups forming.
Here are some helpful resources, especially if a group doesn’t have established guidelines:
“General Critique Guidelines” by the Writer’s Loft
“10 Tips on How To Find or Form the Critique Group of Your Dreams” by Riki Cleveland
The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine
“How To Find A Writing Group, Because Every Aspiring Author Needs A Support Group”
by Sadie Trombetta
“Writing Groups 101: How to Find Your Perfect Match” by Kristen Pope
“The 4 Hidden Dangers of Writing Groups” by Jennie Nash
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.