One of the most beneficial changes I’ve made to my life in the past two years was to start participating in writing groups. I have been lucky enough to participate in a couple of groups and cannot recommend them enough for anyone looking to increase their writing productivity!
The benefits of joining a writing group are endless. As a member, you get the chance to interact with your local creative community, including getting the opportunity to:
- Network with other writers
- Get feedback on works in progress
- Have someone to bounce ideas off of if you get “stuck” on a piece of writing
- Hear about new writing opportunities like conferences or book signings
- Make new friends
- Get awesome book recommendations
- Find accountability partners
- Feel less isolated as a writer
I was initially hesitant to join writing groups as I had participated in one that did not mesh well with my style. Mainly, I did not want to have to read my work out loud or to have to spend several sessions reading other people’s works without having time to work on my own writing.
However, after a little digging, I soon realized that not all writing groups are set up with this format. My writing group from Asheville very rarely read one another’s work. Our group was designed more to support one another as local writers and offer company as we each worked on our individual pieces.
My current writing group will occasionally read each other’s works but again, we mostly meet up in shared spaces like coffee shops to focus on our private works. We also have a shared Google drive folder where we can voluntarily upload pieces so that our writing is read by other people throughout the week instead of out loud at a meeting. This method is much more my style as I do not particularly like having to read my work out loud or to edit someone’s piece right in front of them.
Where to Look for Existing Groups
Check your local Meetup groups. Chances are, there are already ones existing very close to your area. If there isn’t one that already exists, create one on the site yourself. It is cheap and easy to do. Also be sure to check your local community newspaper as their calendars often advertise any local groups. Check the local library calendars as well or the bulletin boards at coffee shops. When my friend and I started ours in Asheville, we advertised at the coffeeshops in the area.
How to Choose a Writing Group That is a Good Fit
Consider what you are looking to get out of a group. Are you wanting to make friends with fellow writers? Maybe you want a more relaxed group that builds in time to chat and network. Do you simply want time to go and write? You could look into any local Shut Up and Write Groups that start a timer. Everyone writes quietly throughout the hour until the timer goes off. Again, if you don’t see any groups that are what you’re looking for, don’t be shy to create your own. You would be surprised by how many people I’ve met who mention they wish a writing group existed in their area.
Where to Meet
Coffee shops are usually my go-to as I love coffee and prefer to be outside the house to write. But we have also written at people’s houses, too. I would suggest meeting in a public place until you get to know all the members of your group, and then you can consider having meetings at home. Don’t forget about virtual opportunities as well. Can’t make a meeting in person? Why not Skype in (or use Google Hangouts) so that you can participate.
You can also create a shared folder in a Google drive. All members have access to it in order to post work and leave comments on others. That way, if your schedule is too busy to commit to a regular meeting each week, you can all find time to review work online.
Do you have any tips on starting writing groups? Have you had success with any? Please share your story in the comments below!