Writing is a lonely endeavor. You only have your thoughts and imagination to keep you company as you type away on your laptop for hours. Now that sounds isolating.
If you find yourself yearning for the company of like-minded people, then maybe joining a writers’ group is your answer.
If there are no writers’ groups in your area and joining a virtual group is not that appealing to you, then perhaps you should start a writers’ group of your own.
Before you start your writers’ group, let’s find out what a writers’ group is and how it can help you and others.
What Is A Writers’ Group?
A writers’ group is a supportive community of like-minded writers who come together to pursue the art and craft of writing.
The members of a writer’s group will help each other by offering advice, giving information, and even providing positive criticism to help writers enhance their writing skills.
It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, make friends, find accountability partners, and discuss issues relating to writing, publishing and selling your books.
A writers’ group offers moral support and a safe place to discuss any issues and air your fears about writing.
Here are some simple steps you can take to start a Writers’ Group:
1. Set Objectives For The Writer’s Group
People join a writers’ group to get help. So, start a writers’ group because you genuinely want to provide a hub where writers can get help.
Start with setting your goals for the group. Here you should consider why you are setting up this group.
- Is the primary aim to share writing tips and inspiration?
- Are you looking for writers to support and provide accountability?
- Is the group for all writers or only writers in your genre?
- Do you want to share pitching, marketing, and querying insights?
- Do you want to encourage one another to share their stories?
- Do you want to encourage any writing practice?
- Do you want to have discussions about writing, give feedback on each other’s work in a structured way, write together in the same space, or do all three?
Once you have decided on the type of group you want to set up, you are ready for the next step.
2. Set the Structure and the Rules
Every group needs structure to run efficiently and without complications. Start with establishing your mission statement and create a group profile where you outline all the rules.
Decide on who can join, at what writing experience level they must be at, and what kind of commitment is required by members.
Establish clear rules on how members are selected and if they will play any formal roles in the group.
Set guidelines on how the group will operate and establish clear expectations.
For example, set clear guidelines and systems for submissions and how they will be distributed for feedback. Establish how feedback will be presented—in person, or as written mark-ups, or by typing out a report.
Develop a critique model. You can establish this with feedback from members of your group or develop a model you think will work best for your group.
Critiquing someone’s work is probably one of the hardest things to do, especially if you have to deliver it to someone regularly.
Perhaps you can decide on a system where all members critique each other’s work, or you can set up a system where only members who want to receive criticism will receive it.
Decide on whether members will critique at each meeting and how much time is spent on it.
Many writers’ groups have rules that members must focus only or mainly on the positive aspects of the writing they are critiquing. While this can create a bond between the group, it can also end up turning into a way to enable writers to remain unclear about what they need to do to improve. This can create stagnation, and can actually hold back members of your group from learning and improving, which is often the main goal of writers who join a writers’ group.
Instead of focusing on positive feedback, consider teaching all new members the importance of negative feedback, why it’s important to learn from your mistakes, and how to receive critical feedback in a way that allows you go grow and improve instead of getting upset by it.
3. Get The Word Out And Find Members
To find members for your group, you need to get the word out. You can establish an online presence on social media like Facebook or LinkedIn. Let your local library know and consider placing an ad in the local paper. Leave flyers in stores in your local area and be sure to include contact information for interested parties to contact you.
You can also create a group on Meetup.com and Facebook so that other writers quickly and easily find your group online.
4. Choose A Meeting Place And Set A Time
Choose meeting place which is centrally located for most people. A meeting room in the local library or a corner in a willing bookstore are great places. Many writers’ groups meet at the home of one of the members to save money and create a tighter bond between members.
Set the time for a meeting and establish a regular meeting schedule so that members can plan to attend group meetings on a regular schedule.
It’s also a good idea to establish meeting rules. Set clear expectations for the type of behavior acceptable and how members should prepare for the group.
You can also develop a set agenda to keep the meeting on track.
Be prepared with all the stuff you’ll need for your writers’ group like pens, pencils, notepads, and paper.
5. Mix Things Up
While you have set up your group for a particular reason and have established all the rules and regulations, it also helps to mix it up a bit.
This way the group does not get boring and your members get a break from the routine. Consider doing something different like trying new writing exercises, holding a workshop, going to a book reading, or doing something social like watching a movie together and discussing it afterwards.
6. Re-Evaluate Your Group
It’s important to re-evaluate your group continually. Even if you have all your rules and regulations in place, chances are some members may not be happy. Perhaps the timings are not right for some, or maybe the commitment is too much of a burden.
Encourage members to give you regular feedback to see if the group is meeting the member’s needs. You can’t please everyone, but you should always encourage feedback and be open to learning as you go.
If you notice that your group is starting to flag or that membership is dropping, then reach out to your members to get some feedback. And make the changes necessary to get your writer’s group back on track.
7. Keep At It
Don’t be discouraged that after all that preparation you don’t have many people joining your group initially. If you want to make your writer’s group work, then keep working at it.
If your dream is to establish a writer’s group, then persevere, and soon you’ll see results.
Your New Writers’ Group
Starting a writer’s group can be daunting initially, but if it’s something you really want to do, then you should.
As long as you keep your member’s needs foremost and consider their feedback, you will be able to establish a great writer’s group everyone enjoys.