I’ve mentioned in passing to a couple of friends that I am in a writing group and their immediate response was, “A writing group? What’s that?” and they want more information on what goes on and how to get involved.
So I decided to come up with some basic Q&A about our group to give you an idea of how it works so you can consider starting one!
Q: What is a writing group?
A: A group of people who share a love of writing. They each bring a piece to the meeting for feedback.
Q: How does it work?
A: It can work however you want! For our first meeting, we submitted a piece up to 1500 words one week ahead..it could be anything: multiple poems, blog posts, fiction, non-fiction..anything. We used a feedback form to give us some guidance in our edits. We met in the evening at IHOP for the quiet and dull atmosphere to stay focused. I originally suggested a place to have a drink, ha!, but later realized not doing so was the best idea. We set a timer and spent about 20 minutes per person going through the piece with our favorite lines, lines that needed reworking, concepts/ideas we liked, where we were engaged, etc. We changed it up a bit for our next meeting and were more flexible on word count and realized we need longer than 20 minutes per person. The format is mold-able.
Q: How many people are in the group?
A: What I have learned from my short experience in a writing group is to keep it small. I know there are larger groups out there and likely function well once they figure out a system. A larger, established group may have more experienced writers who can offer a wealth of guidance and inspiration and I may join such a group one day. I have heard that there are times in meetings with a large group that your piece may get left behind and being a newbie, I still need the attention. I love the intimacy of a small group so that my piece gets time for well thought out feedback.
Q: How do you find people to join?
A: My friend approached me with the idea after we had spoken a few times about our passion for writing. She took the reins and I followed her lead. It is also important to meet with people you trust. There is little point meeting with fellow writers if you are afraid to be honest with your feedback fearing they will be offended or unwilling to take what you offer. In fact, our biggest laughs and fun have been over the fumbles in our writing! On that note, make sure you trust them to take the feedback they offer without taking it personally. Growth in writing, and life for that matter, really comes when we are willing to step back and look at ourselves objectively; when we don’t get too connected to our work or our thoughts and emotions but look at “edits” as a growth opportunity…and a chance for a laugh.
Q: How often do you meet?
A: For us, we all have pretty busy lives so we are meeting about every 3 months but may increase the frequency since the holidays have passed. The time frame lets us reflect on the last meeting, make our edits, and write something for the next meeting.
Q: What are the benefits to being in a writing group?
A: I am finding so many more benefits to this group than I initially anticipated. First, it’s fun to meet with fellow writers and gush about all things writing! Spending time with people who share your passion is fulfilling and we have all developed a special friendship because of it. Second, they inspire and keep me motivated. Each person in the group is talented and I learn so much from them. We each have different writing styles and genre choices which keeps it fun and interesting.
I love blogging and the instant gratification of it but I am working on a bigger piece that often gets shoved aside because it is a work in progress and not something I want on my blog. I’m not sure if it is going to be a short story or a novel, I’m thinking a novel so I am taking the approach of “slow and steady wins the race”. My writing group members are always there cheering me on even when I’m feeling stuck.
After our first meeting, one of the group members took it upon herself to send a weekly email to us all asking about how our writing was going, what were our goals for the week and did we meet our prior week’s goals. I love that she started this because these emails and planning for future meetings really keeps me going!
A writing group is a great way to keep your writing fresh and fun. Find some people who share your passion and meet up. There are no rules, you make it what you want and what works for each member. Please feel free to throw me some more questions if you have them. Just keep writing!